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HAROLD CLUBMAN 


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AMERICAN PLAYS 
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iSSOs 

Foreword by Gordon Davidson 






THE TIME OF 
YOUR LIFE 


by William Saroyan 

To C torgt Jean Nathan 


la the time of your life, live—so that hi that good lima 
there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any 
life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when 
ft Is found, I rang it out of its hiding-place and let it be free 
and unashamed. Place In matter and In Beth the least of 
the values, for these are the things that hold death and must 
pass away. Discover In all things that which shines and it 
beyond corruption. Encourage virtue In whatever heart it 
may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame 
and terror ol the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is utt* 
worthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart. Be the ln» 
ferior of no man, not of any man be the superior. Re¬ 
member that every man Is a variation of yourself. No man's 
guilt is not yours, nor it any man’s innocence a thing apart. 
Dmpise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodtinesg 
or evil. These, understand. Have no shame In being kindly 
and gentle, but If the time comes in the time of your life 
to kill, kilt and have no regret. In the time of your life, 
live—so that In that wondrous time you shall not add to 
the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile 10 the 
infinite delight and mystery of it. 


Copyright, 1939, 

by Harcourt. Brace and Company, Inc. 
Reprinted by permission of the publishers. 


First production, October 23, 1939, 
at the Booth Theatre, New York City, 
with the following cast; 

THE NEWSBOY, Ross Bagdasarialt 
the drunkard, John Farrell 
wnj.ni. Will Lee 
JOE, Eddie Dowling 
nick, Charles de Sheim 
tom, Edward Andrews 
Krmr duval, Julie Haydon 
Dudley, Curt Conway 
HARRY, Gene Kelly 
wesley, Reginald Beane 
lorene, Nene Vibber 
buck, Grover Burgess 
Arab, Houseley Stevens, Sr. 

Mary l.. Celeste Holme 

krupp, William Bendix 

McCarthy, Tom Tully 

kit CARSON, Len Doyle 

Nick's ma, Michelette Burant 

sailor, Randolph Wade 

Elsie, Cathie Bailey 

a killer, Evelyn Geller 

her side kick, Mary Cheffey 

A society lady, Eva Leonard Boyne 

A society gentleman, Ainsworth Arnold 

first COP, Randolph Wade 

SECOND COP, John Farrell 


the place: Nick's Pacific Street Saloon, Restaurant and 
Entertainment Palace at the foot of Embarcadero, ' 
in San Francisco, A suggestion of room 2i at 
The New York Hotel, upstairs, around the comer. 

the tjmk Afternoon and night of a day i» October, 1939, 


Act one 


nick's is an American place: a San Francisco water¬ 
front honky-tonk. 

At a table, joe: always calm, always quiet, always 
thinking, always eager, always bored, always superior. 
His expensive clothes are casually and youthfully 
worn and give him an almost boyish appearance. He 
is thinking. 

Behind the bar, nick: a big red-headed young Ital- 
ian-American with an enormous naked woman tatooed 
in red on the inside of his right arm. He is studying 
“The Racing Form.” 

The Arab, at his place at the end of the bar. He is 
a lean old man with a rather ferocious oldrcountry 
mustache, with the ends twisted up. Between the 
thumb and forefinger of his left hand is the Moham¬ 
medan tattoo indicating that he has been to Mecca. 
He is sipping a glass of beer. 

It is about eleven-thirty in the morning, sam is 
sweeping out. We see only his back. He disappears into 
the kitchen. The sailor at the bar finishes his drink 
and leaves, moving thoughtfully, as though he were 
trying very hard to discover how to live. 

The newsboy comes in. 

newsboy [cheerfully]. Good-morning, everybody. [No 
answer. To nick.] Paper, Mister? [nick shakes his 


288 William Saroyan 

head, no. The newsboy goes to joe.] Paper, Mister? 
[joe shakes his head, no. The newsboy walks away t 
counting papers.] 

JOE [noticing him]. How many you got? 

newsboy. Five. 

[joe gives him a quarter, takes all the papers, glancet 
at the headlines with irritation, throws them away , 
The newsboy watches carefully, then goes.] 

Arab [picks up paper, looks at headlines, shakes head 
as if rejecting everything else a man might say about 
the world]. No foundation. All the way down die 
line. 

[The drunk comes in. Walks to the telephone, lookl 
for a nickel in the chute, sits down at joe’s table, 
nick takes the drunk out. The drunk return*.] 

Drunk [champion of the Bill of iiights]. This is a free 
country, ain’t it? 

[willie, the marble-game maniac, explodes through 
the swinging doors and lifts the forefinger of his 
right hand comically, indicating one beer. He is a 
very young man, not more than twenty. He is wear ■ 
ing heavy shoes, a pair of old and dirty corduroys, 
a light green turtle-neck jersey with a large letter 
“F” on the chest, an oversize two-button tweed coat, 
and a green hat, with the brim up. nick sets out a 
glass of beer for him, he drinks it, straightens up 
vigorously saying "Aaak ,” makes a solemn face, gives 
Nick a one-finger salute of adieu, and begins to leave, 
refreshed and restored in spirit. He walks by the 
marble game, halts suddenly, turns, studies the con¬ 
traption, gestures as if to say, Oh, no. Turns to go, 
stops, returns to the machine, studies it, takes a 
handful of small coins out of his pants pocket, lifts 
a nickel, indicates with a gesture, One game, no 
more. Puts the nickel in the slot, pushes in the slide, 
making an interesting noise.] 


The Time of Your Life 389 
nick. You can’t beat that machine. 

Willie. Oh, yeah? [The marbles fall, roll, and take 
their place. He pushes down the lever, placing one 
marble in position. Takes a very deep breath, walks 
in a small circle, excited at the beginning of great 
drama. Stands straight and pious before the con¬ 
test. Himself vs. the machine. Willie vs. Destiny. 
His skill and daring vs. the cunning and trickery 
of the novelty industry of America, and the whole 
challenging world. He is the last of the American 
pioneers, with nothing more to fight but t'e ma¬ 
chine, with no other reward than lights going on 
and off, and six nickels for one. Before him is the 
last champion, the machine. He is the last challen¬ 
ger, the young man with nothing to do in the 
world, wilue grips the knob delicately, studies the 
situation carefully, draws the knob back, holds it a 
moment, and then releases it. The first marble rolls 
out among the hazards, and the contest is on. 

[At the very beginning of the play “The Missouri 
Waltz" is coming from the phonograph. The music 
ends here. This is the signal for the beginning of 
the play, joe suddenly comes out of his reverie. He 
whistles the way people do who are calling a cab 
that’s about a block away, only he does it quietly. 
willie turns around, but joe gestures for him to re¬ 
turn to his work, nick looks up from “The Racing 
Form.” 5 

joe [calling]. Tom. [To himself.] Where the hell is he, 
every time I need him? [He looks around calmly: 
the nickcl-in-the-slot phonograph in the corner; the 
open public telephone; the stage; the marble game; 
the bar; and so on. He calls again, this time very 
loud.] Hey, Tom. 

NICK [with morning irritation]. What do you want? 
joe [without thinking]. I want the boy to get me a 


890 William Saroyan 

watermelon, that’s what I want. What do you want? 
Money, or love, or fame, or what? You. won’t get 
them studying “The Racing Form.” 
nick. I like to keep abreast o£ the times. 

[tom comes hurrying in. He is a great big man of 
about thirty or so u>ho appears to be much younger 
because of the childlike expression of his face: hand¬ 
some, dumb, innocent, troubled, and a little bewil¬ 
dered by everything. He is obviously adult in years, 
but it seems as if by all rights he should still be a 
boy. He is defensive as clumsy, self-conscious, over¬ 
grown boys are. He is wearing a flashy cheap suit. 
joe leans back and studies him with casual disap¬ 
proval. tom slackens his pace and becomes clumsy 
and embarrassed, waiting for the bawling-out he’s 
pretty sure he’s going to get.] 
joe [objectively, severely, but a little amused}. Who 
saved your life? 

TOM [sincerely]. You did, Joe. Thanks. 
joe [ interested ]. How’d 1 do it? 

TOM [confused]. What? 
joe [even more interested]. How’d I do it? 
tom. Joe, you know how you did it. 
joe [softly]. I want you to answer me. How’d I save 
your life? I've forgotten. 

tom [remembering, with a big sorrowful smile]. Yoti 
made me eat all that chicken soup three years ago 
when I was sick and hungry. 
joe [fascinated]. Chicken soupt 
tom [eagerly]. Yeah. 
joe. Three years? Is it that long? 

TOM [delighted to have the information ]. Yeah, sure. 

1937. 1938. 1939. This is 1939, Joe. 
joe [amused]. Never mind what year it is. Tell me the 
whole story. 

tom. You took me to the doctor. You gave me money 


The Time of Tour Life 891 
lor food and clothes, and paid my room rent Aw, 
Joe, you know all the different things you did. 

[joe nods, turning away from tom after each ques¬ 
tion.] 

joe. You in good health now? 
tom. Yeah, Joe. 
joe. You got clothes? 
tom. Yeah, Joe. 

joe. You eat three times a day. Sometimes four? 
tom. Yeah, Joe. Sometimes five. 
joe. You got a place to sleep? 
tom. Yeah, Joe. 

[joe nods. Pauses. Studies tom carefully .] 
joe. Then, where the hell have you been? 
tom [humbly]. Joe, I was out in die strefet listening to 
the boys. They're talking about the trouble down 
here on the waterfront. 

joe [sharply], I want you to be around when I need 
you. 

tom [pleased that the bawling-out is over]. I won’t do 
it again. Joe, one guy out there says there’s got to be 
a revolution before anything will ever be all right. 
joe [impatiently]. I know all about it. Now, here. 
Take this money. Go up to the Emporium. You 
know where the Emporium is? 
tom. Yeah, sure, Joe. 

joe. All right. Take the elevator and go up to the 
fourth floor. Walk around to the back, to the toy 
department. Buy me a couple of dollars’ worth of 
toys and bring them here. 
tom [amazed]. Toys? What kind of toys, Joe? 
joe. Any kind of toys. Little ones that I can put on 
this table. 

tom. What do you want toys for, Joe? 
joe [mildly angry]. Whatf 

tom. All right, all right. You don’t have to get sore 


892 William Saroyan 

at everything. What’ll people think, a big guy like 
me buying toys? 

JOE. What people ? 

tom. Aw, Joe, you’re always making me do crazy 
things for you, and I'm die guy that gets embar¬ 
rassed. You just sit in this place and make me do 
all the dirty work. 

joe [looking away ]. Do what I tell you. 

tom. O.K., but I wish I knew why. [He makes to go.] 

joe. Wait a minute. Here’s a nickel. Put it in the 
phonograph. Number seven. I want to hear that 
waltz again. 

tom. Boy, I'm glad I don’t have to stay and listen to 
it. Joe, what do you hear in that song anyway? We 
listen to that song ten times a day. Why can't we 
hear number six, or two, or nine? There are a lot 
of other numbers. 

joe [emphatically]. Put the nickel in the phonograph. 
\Pause.\ Sit down and wait till the music's over. 
Then go get me some toys. 

TOM. O.K. O.K. 

joe [loudly]. Never mind being a martyr about it 
either. The cause isn't worth it. 

[Tom puts the nickel into the machine, with a ritual 
of impatient and efficient movement which plainly 
shows his lack of sympathy or enthusiasm. His man¬ 
ner also reveals, however, that his lack of sympathy 
is spurious and exaggerated. Actually, he is fasci¬ 
nated by the music , but is so confused by it that he 
pretends he dislikes it. The music begins. It is an¬ 
other variation of “The Missouri Waltz,” played 
dreamily and softly, with perfect orchestral form, 
and with a theme of weeping in the horns repeated 
a number of times. At first tom listens with some¬ 
thing close to irritation, since he can’t understand 
what is so attractive in the music to joe, and what 


The Time of Tour Life 898 
is so painful and confusing in it to himself. Very 
soon, however, he is carried away by the melancholy 
story of grief and nostalgia of the song. He stands, 
troubled by the poetry and confusion in himself. 
joe, on the other hand, listens as if he were not lis¬ 
tening, indifferent and unmoved. What he’s inter¬ 
ested in is tom. He turns and glances at tom. kitty 
duval, who lives in a room in The New York Hotel, 
around the comer, comes beyond the swinging 
doors, quietly, and walks slowly to the bar, her real¬ 
ity and rhythm a perfect accompaniment to the sor¬ 
rowful American music, which is her music, as it 
is tom’s. Which the world drove out of her, putting 
in its place brokenness and all manner of spiritu¬ 
ally crippled forms. She seems to understand this, 
and is angry. Angry with herself, full of hate for 
the poor world, and full of pity and contempt for 
its tragic, unbelievable, confounded people. She is 
a small powerful girl, with that kind of delicate and 
rugged beauty which no circumstance of evil or ugly 
reality can destroy. This beauty is that element of 
the immortal which is in the seed of good and com¬ 
mon people, and which is kept alive in some of the 
female of our kind, no matter how accidentally or 
pointlessly they may have entered the world, kitty 
duval is somebody. There is an angry purity, and a 
fierce pride, in her. In her stance, and way of walk¬ 
ing, there is grace and arrogance, joe recognizes her 
as a great person immediately. She goes to the bar.] 

kitty. Beer. 

[nick places a glass of beet before her mechanically. 
She swallows half the drink, and listens to the music 
again, tom turns and sees her. He becomes dead to 
everything in the world but her. He stands like a 
lump, fascinated and undone by his almost religious 
adoration for her. joe notices tom. 


394 William Saroyan 

joe [gently]. Tom. [tom begins to move toward the 
bar, where kitty is standing. Loudly.] Tom. [tom 
halts, then turns, and joe motions to him to come 
over to the table, tom goes over. Quietly.] Have you 
got everything straight? 
tom [out of the world]. What? 
joe. What do you mean, what? I just gave you some 
instructions. 

tom [pathetically]. What do you want, Joe? 
joe. 1 want you to come to your senses. [He stands up 
quietly and knocks tom’s hat off. tom picks up his 
hat quickly.] 

tom. I got it, Joe. I got it. The Emporium. Fourth 
floor. In the back. The toy department. Two dol¬ 
lars’ worth of toys. That you can put on a table. 
kitty [to herself. Who the hell is he to push a big 
man like that around? 

joe. I’ll expect you back in a half hour. Don’t get 
side-tracked anywhere. Just do what I tell you. 

TOM [pleading ]. Joe? Can’t I bet four bits on a horse 
race? There’s a long shot-Precious Time-that’s 
going to win by ten lengths. I got to have money. 
[joe points to the street, tom goes out. nick is comb¬ 
ing his hair, looking in the m irror.] 
nick. I thought you wanted him to get you a water¬ 
melon. 

joe. I forgot. [He watches kitty a moment. To kitty, 
clearly, slowly, with great compassion.] What's the 
dream? 

kitty [moving to joe, coming to]. What? 
joe [ holding the dream for her]. What’s the dream, 
nowt 

kitty [ coming still closer]. What dream? 
joe. What dream 1 The dream you’re dreaming. 
nick. Suppose he did bring you a watermelon? What 
the hell would you do with, it? 


The Time of Your Life 995 
JOE [irritated]. I’d put it on this table. I’d look at it 
Then I’d eat it. What do you think I’d do with it, 
sell it for a profit? 

nick. How should I know what you’d do with any¬ 
thing? What I'd like to know is, where do you get 
your money from? What work do you do? 
joe [looking at kitty]. Bring us a bottle of cham¬ 
pagne. 

kitty. Champagne? 

joe [simply]. Would you rather have something else? 
kitty. What's the big idea? 

joe. I thought you might like some champagne. I my¬ 
self am very fond of it. 

kitty. Yeah, but what’s the big idea? You can’t push 
me around. 

joe [gently but severely]. It’s not in my nature to be 
unkind to another human being. I have only con¬ 
tempt for wit. Otherwise I might say something ob¬ 
vious, therefore cruel, and perhaps untrue. 
kitty. You be careful what you think about me. 
joe [s/oudy, not looking at her]. I have only the no¬ 
blest thoughts for both your person and your spirit. 
nick [having listened carefully and not being able to 
make it out]. What are you talking about? 
kitty. You shut up. You— 

joe. He owns this place. He’s an important man. All 
kinds of people come to him looking for work. Co¬ 
medians. Singers. Dancers. 
kitty. I don’t care. He can’t call me names. 
nick. All right, sister. I know how it is with a two-dol- 
lar whore in the morning. 

kitty [furiously ]. Don’t you dare call me names. I 
used to be in burlesque. 

nick. If you were ever in burlesque, I used to be Char¬ 
lie Chaplin. 

kitty [angry and a little pathetic]. I was in burlesque. 


896 William Saroyan 

I played the burlesque circuit from coast to coast 
I’ve had flowers sent to roe by European royalty. 
I’ve had dinner with young men of wealth and so¬ 
cial position. 

nick. You're dreaming. 

kitty [to joe]. I was in burlesque. Kitty Duval. That 
was my name. Life-size photographs of me in cos¬ 
tume in front of burlesque theaters all over the 
country. 

joe [gently, coaxingly]. I believe you. Have some 
champagne. 

nick [going to table, with champagne bottle and 
glasses]. There he goes again. 

joe. Miss Duval? 

kitty [sincerely, going over]. That’s not my real name. 
That's my stage name. 

joe. I’ll call you by your stage name. 

nick [pouring]. All right, sister, make up your mind. 
Are you going to have champagne with him, or not? 

joe. Pour the lady some wine. 

nick. O.K., Professor. Why you come to this joint in¬ 
stead of one of the high-class dumps uptown is more 
than I can understand. Why don’t you have cham¬ 
pagne at the St. Francis? Why don’t you drink with 
a lady? 

kitty [furiously]. Don’t you call me names—you den¬ 
tist. 

joe. Dentist? 

nick [amazed, loudly]. What kind of cussing is that? 

Looking at kitty, then at joe, bewildered.] 
This guy doesn’t belong here. The only reason I’ve 
got champagne is because he keeps ordering it all 
the time. [To kitty.] Don’t think you’re the only 
one he drinks champagne with. He drinks with all 
of them. [Pause.] He’s crazy. Or something. 


The Time of Your Life 897 
joe [confidentially]. Nick, I think you’re going to be 
all right in a couple of centuries. 
nick. I’m sorry, I don’t understand your English. 

[joe lifts his glass, kitty slowly lifts hers, not quite 
sure of what’s going on.] 
joe [sincerely]. To the spirit, Kitty Duval. 
kitty [beginning to understand, and very grateful, 
looking at him]. Thank you. 
joe [ca/itng], Nick. 

NICK. Yeah? 

joe. Would you mind putting a nickel in the machine 
again? Number— 

nick. Seven. I know. I know. I don’t mind at all. Your 
Highness, although, personally, I’m not a lover of 
music. [Going to the machine.] As a matter of fact 
I think Tchaikowsky was a dope. 
joe. Tchaikowsky? Where'd you ever hear of Tchai¬ 
kowsky? 

nick. He was a dope. 
joe. Yeah. Why? 

nick. They talked about him on the radio one Sun¬ 
day morning. He was a sucker. He let a woman 
drive him crazy. 
joe. I see. 

nick. I stood behind that bar listening to the God¬ 
damn stuff and cried like a baby. None but the 
lonely heart! He was a dope. 
joe. What made you cry? 
nick. What? 

joe [sternly]. What made you cry, Nick? 
nick [angry with himself]. I don't know. 
joe. I’ve been underestimating you, Nick. Play num¬ 
ber seven. 

nick. They get everybody worked up. They give ev¬ 
erybody stuff they shouldn’t have, [nick puts the 


398 William Saroyan 

nickel into the machine and the waltz begins again. 
He listens to the music. Then studies "The Racing 
Form.”] 

kitty [to herself, dreaming]. I like champagne, and 
everything that goes with it. Big houses with big 
porches, and big rooms with big windows, and big 
lawns, and big trees, and Bowers growing every¬ 
where, and big shepherd dogs sleeping in the shade. 
kick.. I’m going next door to Frankie’s to make a bet. 

I’ll be right back. 
joe. Make one for me. 
nick [going to joe]. Who do you like? 
joe [giuing him money]. Precious Time. 
nick. Ten dollars? Across the board? 
joe. No. On the nose. 

NICK. O.K. [He goes.] 

[Dudley r. bostwick, as he calls himself, breaks 
through the swinging doors, and practically flings 
himself upon the open telephone beside the phono¬ 
graph. Dudley is a young man of about twenty-four 
or twenty-five, ordinary and yet extraordinary. He 
is smallish, as the saying is, neatly dressed in bar¬ 
gain clothes, overworked and irritated by the rou¬ 
tine and dullness and monotony of his life, appar¬ 
ently nobody and nothing, but in reality a great 
personality. The swindled young man. Educated, 
but without the least real understanding. A brave, 
dumb, salmon-spirit struggling for life in weary, 
stupefied flesh, dueling ferociously with a banal 
mind which has been only irritated by what it has 
been taught. He is a great personality because, 
against all these handicaps, what he wants is simple 
and basic: a woman. This urgent and violent need, 
common yet miraculous enough in itself, consider¬ 
ing the unhappy enxnronment of the animal, is the 
force which elevates him from nothingness to great- 


The Time of Tour Life 899 
ness. A ridiculous greatness, but in the nature of 
things beautiful to behold. All that he has been 
taught, and everything he believes, is phony , and 
yet he himself is real, almost super-real, because of 
this indestructible force in himself. His face is ridic¬ 
ulous. His personal rhythm is tense and jittery. His 
speech is shrill and violent. His gestures are wild. 
His ego is disjointed and epileptic. And yet deeply 
he possesses the same wholeness of spirit, and direct¬ 
ness of energy, that is in all species of animals. 
There is little innate or cultivated spirit in him , 
but there is no absence of innocent animal force. He 
is a young man who has been taught that he has a 
chance, as a person, and believes it. As a matter of 
fact, he hasn’t a chance in the world, and should 
have been told by somebody, or should not have 
had his natural and valuable ignorance spoiled by 
education, ruining an otherwise perfectly good and 
charming member of the human race. At the tele¬ 
phone he immediately begins to dial furiously, hesi¬ 
tates, changes his mind, stops dialing, hangs up fu¬ 
riously, and suddenly begins again. Not more than 
half a minute after the firecracker arrival of Dudley 
r. bostwick, occurs the polka-and-waltz arrival of 
harry, harry is another story. He comes in timidly, 
turning about uncertainly, awkward, out of place 
everywhere, embarrassed and encumbered by the 
contemporary costume, sick at heart, but determined 
to fit in somewhere. His arrival constitutes a dance. 
His clothes don't fit. The pants are a little too large. 
The coat, which doesn’t match, is also a little too 
large, and loose. He is a dumb young fellow, but he 
has ideas. A philosophy, in fact. His philosophy is 
simple and beautiful. The world is sorrowful. The 
world needs laughter, harry is funny. The world 
needs harry, harry will make the world laugh. He 


400 William Saroyan 

has probably had a year or two of high school. He 
has also listened to the boys at the pool room. He’s 
looking for nick. He goes to the arab and says, “Are 
you Nickf* The arab shakes his head. He stands at 
the bar, waiting. He waits very busily.] 
harry [<m nick returns]. You Nick? 
nick [very loudly]. I am Nick. 
harry [acting]. Can you use a great comedian? 
nick [behind the bar]. Who, for instance? 
harry [almost angry]. Me. 
nick. You? What’s funny about you? 

[dudley at the telephone, is dialing. Because of some 
defect in the apparatus the dialing is very loud.] 
Dudley. Hello. Sunset 7549? May I speak to Miss Elsie 
Mandelspiegel? [Pause,] 

harry [with spirit and noise, dancing]. I dance and do 
gags and stuff. 

nick. In costume? Or are you wearing your costume? 
dudley. All I need is a cigar. 

kitty [continuing the dream of grace]. I’d walk out 
of the house, and stand on the porch, and look at 
the trees, and smell the flowers, and run across the 
lawn, and lie down under a tree, and read a book. 
[Pause.] A book of poems, maybe. 

DUDLEY [very, very clearly]. Elsie Mandelspiegel. [Im¬ 
patiently.] She has a room on the fourth floor. She's 
a nurse at the Southern Pacific Hospital. Elsie Man 
delspiegel. She works at night Elsie. Yes. [He be 
gins waiting again, wesley, a colored boy, comes to 
the bar and stands near harry, waiting.] 
nick. Beer? 

wesley. No, sir. I’d like to talk to you. 
nick [to harry]. All right. Get funny. 
harry [getting funny, an altogether different person, 
an actor with great energy, both in power of voice, 
and in force and speed of physical gesture]. Now, 


The Time of Your Life 401 
I’m standing on the comer of Third and Market 
I’m looking around. I’m figuring it out. There it is. 
Right in front of me. The whole city. The whole 
world. People going by. They're going somewhere. 
I don’t know where, but they're going. I ain’t going 
anywhere. Where the hell can you go? I’m figuring 
it out. All right, I’m a citizen. A fat guy bumps his 
stomach into the face of an old lady. They were in 
a hurry. Fat and old. They bumped. Boom. I don’t 
know. It may mean war. War. Germany. England. 
Russia. 1 don't know for sure. [Loudly, dramatically, 
he salutes, about faces, presents arms, aims, and 
fires.] WAAAAAR. [He blows a call to arms, nick 
gets sick of this, indicates with a gesture that harry 
should hold it, and goes to wesley.] 

Nick. What’s on your mind? 
wesley [confused]. Well— 

nick. Come on. Speak up. Are you hungry, or what? 
wesley. Honest to God, I ain’t hungry. All I want 
is a job. I don't want no charity. 
nick. Well, what can you do, and how good are you? 
wesley. I can run errands, clean up, wash dishes, any¬ 
thing. 

dudley [on the telephone, very eagerly]. Elsie? Elsie, 
this is Dudley. Elsie, I'll jump in the bay if you 
don’t marry me. Life isn’t worth living without you. 
I can’t sleep. I can’t think of anything but you. All 
the time. Day and night and night and day. Elsie, I 
love you. I love you. What? [Burning up.] Is this 
Sunset 7-S-4-9? [Pause.] 7943? [Calmly, while willie 
begins making a small racket.] Well, what’s your 
name? Lorenet Lorene Smith? I thought you were 
Elsie Mandelspiegel. What? Dudley. Yeah. Dudley 
R. Bostwick. Yeah. R. It stands for Raoul, but I 
never spell it out. I’m pleased to meet you, too. 
What? There’s a lot of noise around here, [willie 


402 William Saroyan 

stops hitting the marble game.] Where am I? At 
Nick’s, on Pacific Street. I work at the S. P. I told 
them I was sick and they gave me the afternoon off. 
Wait a minute. I'll ask them. I’d like to meet you, 
too. Sure. I’ll ask them. [Tams around to nick.] 
What's this address? 
nick. Number 8 Pacific Street, you cad. 

Dudley. Cad? You don’t know how I’ve been suffer¬ 
ing on account of Elsie. I take things too ceremoni¬ 
ously. I’ve got to be more lackadaisical. [Into tele¬ 
phone.] Hello, Elenore? I mean, Lorene. It’s num¬ 
ber 3 Pacific Street. Yeah. Sure. I’ll wait for you. 
How’ll you know me? You’ll know me. I’ll recog¬ 
nize you. Good-by, now. [He hangs up.] 
harry [continuing his monologue, with gestures, move¬ 
ments, and so on]. I’m standing there. I didn’t do 
anything to anybody. Why should I be a soldier? 
[Sincerely, insanely.] BOOOOOOOOOM. WAR! 
O.K. War. / retreat. I hate war. I move to Sacra¬ 
mento. 

nick [shouting], All right, comedian. Lay off a minute. 
harry [broken-hearted, going to willieJ. Nobody’s 
got a sense of humor any more. The world’s dying 
for comedy like never before, but nobody knows 
how to laugh. 

nick [to wesley]. Do you belong to the union? 
wesley. What union? 

nick. For the love of Mike, where’ve you been? Don’t 
you know you can’t come into a place and ask for 
a job and get one and go to work, just like that. 
You’ve got to belong to one of the unions. 
wesley. I didn’t know. I got to have a job. Real soon. 
nick. Well, you've got to belong to a union. 
wesley. I don’t want any favors. All I want is a chance 
to earn a living. 


The Time of Your Life 403 
NICK. Go on into the kitchen and tell Sam to give you 
some lunch. 

wesley. Honest, I ain't hungry. 

Dudley [sA outing]. What I’ve gone through for Elsie. 
harry. I’ve got all kinds of funny ideas in my head 
to help make the world happy again. 
nick [holding wesley]. No, he isn’t hungry. 

[wesley almost faints from hunger, nick catches him 
just in time. The ARAB and nick go off with wesley 
into the kitchen.] 

harry [to willie]. See if you think this is funny. It’s 
my own idea. I created this dance myself. It comes 
after the monologue, [harry begins to dance, willie 
watches a moment, and then goes back to the game. 
It's a goofy dance, which harry does with great sor¬ 
row, but much energy.] 

Dudley. Elsie. Aw, gee, Elsie. What the hell do I want 
to see Lorene Smith for? Some girl I don’t know. 
[joe and kitty have been drinking in silence. There 
is no sound now except the soft-shoe shuffling of 
harry, the Comedian .] 
joe. What's the dream now, Kitty Duval? 
kitty [dreaming the words and pictures]. I dream of 
home. Christ, I always dream of home. I’ve no 
home. I've no place. But I always dream of all of 
us together again. We had a farm in Ohio. There 
was nothing good about it. It was always sad. There 
was always trouble. But I always dream about it as 
if I could go back and Papa would be there and 
Mamma and Louie and my little brother Stephen 
and my sister Mary. I’m Polish. Duvall My name 
isn't Duval, it’s Koranovsky. Katerina Koranovsky. 
We lost everything. The house, the farm, the trees, 
the horses, the cows, the chickens. Papa died. He was 
old. He was thirteen years older than Mamma. We 


404 William Saroyan 

moved to Chicago. We tried to work. We tried to 
stay together. Louie got in trouble. The fellows he 
was with killed him for something. I don’t know 
what. Stephen ran away from home. Seventeen years 
old. I don’t know where he is. Then M amma died. 
[Pause.] What’s the dream? I dream of home. 

[nick comes out of the kitchen with wesley.] 
nick. Here. Sit down here and rest. That'll hold you 
for a while. Why didn’t you tell me you were hun¬ 
gry? You all right now? 

wesley [sitting down in the chair at the piano]. Yes, 
I am. Thank you, I didn't know I was that hungry. 
nick. Fine. [To harry who is dancing .] Hey. What the 
hell do you think you’re doing? 
harry [stopping]. That’s my own idea. I’m a natural- 
bom dancer and comedian. 

[wesley begins slowly, one note, one chord at a time, 
to play the piano.] 

nick. You’re no good. Why don’t you try some other 
kind of work? Why don’t you get a job in a store, 
selling something? What do you want to be a come¬ 
dian for? 

harry. I've got something for the world and they 
haven’t got sense enough to let me give it to them. 
Nobody knows me. 

Dudley. Elsie. Now I’m waiting for some dame I've 
never seen before. Lorene Smith. Never saw her in 
my life. Just happened to get the wrong number. 
She turns on the personality, and I’m a cooked In¬ 
dian. Give me a beer, please. 
harry. Nick, you’ve got to see my act. It's the greatest 
thing of its kind in America. All I want is a chance. 
No salary to begin. Let me try it out tonight. If I 
don't wow ’em, O.K., I’ll go home. If vaudeville 
wasn't dead, a guy like me would have a chance. 


The Time of Your Life 405 

nick. You’re not funny. You’re a sad young punk. 
What the hell do you want to try to be funny for? 
You’ll break everybody’s heart. What’s there for 
you to be funny about? You’ve been poor all your 
life, haven’t you? 

harry. I’ve been poor all right, but don't forget that 
same things count more than some other things. 
nick. What counts more, for instance, than what else, 
for instance? 

harry. Talent, for instance, counts more than money, 
for instance, that's what, and I've got talent. I get 
new ideas night and day. Everything comes natural 
to me. I've got style, but it’ll take me a little time 
to round it out. That's alL 
[By now wesley £s playing something of his own which 
is very good and out of the world. He plays about 
half a minute, after which harry begins to dance.] 
nick [watching]. I run the lousiest dive in Frisco, and 
a guy arrives and makes me stock up with cham¬ 
pagne. The whores come in and holler at me that 
they're ladies. Talent comes in and begs me for a 
chance to show itself. Even society people come here 
once in a while. I don’t know what for. Maybe it’s 
liquor. Maybe it’s the location. Maybe it’s my per¬ 
sonality. Maybe it’s the crazy personality of the 
joint. The old honky-tonk. [Pause.] Maybe they 
can’t feel at home anywhere else. 

[By now wesley is really playing, and harry is going 
through a new routine. Dudley grows sadder and 
sadder.] 

kitty. Please dance with me. 
joe \loudly]. I never learned to dance. 
kitty. Anybody can dance. Just hold me in your arms. 
joe. I’m very fond of you. I’m sorry. I can’t dance. 
I wish to God I could. 


406 William Saroyan 

kitty. Oh, please. 

joe. Forgive me. I'd like to very much. 

[kitty dances alone, tom comes in with a package. He 
sees KITTY and goes ga-ga again. He comes out of 
the trance and puts the bundle on the table in 
front of joe.] 

joe [taking the package ]. What’d you get? 
tom. Two dollars’ worth of toys. That’s what you sent 
me for. The girl asked me what I wanted with toys. 
I didn't know what to tell her. [He stares at kitty, 
then back at joe.] Joe? I’ve got to have some money. 
After all you’ve done for me. I’ll do anything in 
the world for you, but, Joe, you got to give me some 
money once in a while. 
joe. What do you want it for? 

[tom turns and stares at kitty dancing .] 
joe [noticing]. Sure. Here. Here's five. [Shouting.] 
Can you dance? 

tom [proudly]. I got second prize at the Palomar in 
Sacramento five years ago. 

joe [ loudly, opening package ]. O.K., dance with her. 
TOM. You mean herf 

joe [loudly]. I mean Kitty Duval, the burlesque 
queen. I mean the queen of the world burlesque. 
Dance with her. She wants to dance. 
tom [worshiping the name Kitty Duval, helplessly]. 

Joe, can I tell you something? 
joe [he brings out a toy and winds it]. You don't have 
to. I know. You love her. You really love her. I'm 
not blind. I know. But take care of yourself. Don’t 
get sick that way again. 

nick [looking at and listening to wesley with amaze¬ 
ment ]. Comes in here and wants to be a dish-washer. 
Faints from hunger. And then sits down and plays 
better than Heifetz. 
joe. Heifetz plays the violin. 


The Time of Tour Life 407 
NICK. All right, don’t get careful. He's good, ain’t he? 
tom [to kitty]. Kitty. 

joe [he lets the toy go, loudly]. Don’t talk. Just dance. 
[tom and kitty dance, nick is at the bar, watching 
everything, harry is dancing. Dudley is grieving 
into his beer, lorene smith, about thirty-seven, 
very overbearing and funny-looking, comes to the 
bar.] 

nick. What’ll it be, lady? 

lorene [looking about and scaring all the young men]. 
I’m looking for the young man I talked to on the 
telephone. Dudley R. Bostwick. 

Dudley [ jumping, running to her, stopping, shocked]. 
Dudley R. [Sfoady.] Bostwick? Oh, yeah. He left 
here ten minutes ago. You mean Dudley Bostwick, 
that poor man on crutches? 
lorene. Crutches? 

Dudley. Yeah. Dudley Bostwick. That’s what he said 
his name was. He said to tell you not to wait 
lorene. Well. [She begins to go, turns around.] Are 
you sure you're not Dudley Bostwick? 

Dudley. Who—me? [Grandly.] My name is Roger Ten- 
efrancia, I’m a French-Canadian. I never saw the 
poor fellow before. 

lorene. It seems to me your voice is like the voice I 
heard over the telephone. 

Dudley. A coincidence. An accident. A quirk of fate. 
One of those things. Dismiss the thought. That poor 
cripple hobbled out of here ten minutes ago. 
lorene. He said he was going to commit suicide. I 
only wanted to be of help. [Sfte goes.] 

Dudley. Be of help? What kind of help could she be 
of? [dudley runs to the telephone in the corner.] 
Gee whiz, Elsie. Gee whiz. I’ll never leave you again. 
[He turns the pages of a little address book.] Why 
do I always forget the number? I’ve tried to get her 


408 William Saroyan 

on the phone a hundred times this week and I still 
forget the number. She won't come to the phone, 
but I keep trying anyway. She’s out She’s not In. 
She’s working. I get the wrong number. Everything 
goes haywire. I can’t sleep. [Defiantly.] She’11 come 
to the phone one o£ these days. If there’s anything 
to true love at all, she’ll come to the phone. Sun¬ 
set 7349. [He dials the number, as joe goes on study¬ 
ing the toys. They are one big mechanical toy, whis¬ 
tles, and a music box. joe blows into the whistles, 
quickly, by way of getting casually acquainted with 
them, tom and kitty stop dancing, tom stares at 
her.] 

Dudley. Hello. Is this Sunset 7349? May I speak to 
Elsie? Yes. [Emphatically, and bitterly.] No, this is 
not Dudley Bostwick. This is Roger Tenefranria 
of Montreal, Canada. I’m a childhood friend of Miss 
MandelspiegeL We went to kindergarten together. 
[Hand over phone.] God damn it. [Into phone.] 
Yes. I’ll wait, thank you. 

tom. I love you. 

kitty. You want to go to my room? [tom can’t answer .] 
Have you got two dollars? 

tom [shaking his head with confusion ]. I’ve got five 
dollars, but I love you. 

kitty [looking at him]. You want to spend all that 
money? 

[tom embraces her. They go. joe watches. Goes back 
to the toy.] 

joe. Where’s that longshoreman, McCarthy? 

nick. He’ll be around. 

joe. What do you think he’ll have to say today? 

nick. Plenty, as usual. I’m going next door to see who 
won that third race at Laurel. 

joe. Precious Time won it. 

nick. That’s what you think. [He goes.] 


The Time of Your Life 409 
joe [fo himself]. A horse named McCarthy is running 
in the sixth race today. 

Dudley [on the phone]. Hello. Hello, Elsie? Elsie? [His 
voice weakens; also his limbs.] My God. She’s come 
to the phone. Elsie, I’m at Nick’s on Pacific Street. 
You’ve got to come here and talk to me. Hello. 
Hello, Elsie? [Amazed!] Did she hang up? Or was I 
disconnected? [He hangs up and goes to bar. wes- 
ley is still playing the piano, harry is still dancing. 
joe has wound up the big mechanical toy and is 
watching it work, nick returns.] 
nick [watching the toy]. Say. That's some gadget. 
joe. How much did I win? 
nick. How do you know you wonT 
joe. Don’t be silly. He said Precious Time was going 
to win by ten lengths, didn’t he? He’s in love, isn’t 
he? 

nick. O.K. I don’t know why, but Precious Time won. 

You got eighty for ten. How do you do it? 
joe [roaring]. Faith. Faith. How^ he win? 
nick. By a nose. Look him up in “The Racing Form.** 
The slowest, the cheapest, the worst horse in the 
rare, and the worst jockey. What’s the matter with 
my luck? 

joe. How much did you lose? 
nick. Fifty cents. 
joe. You should never gamble. 
nick. Why not? 

joe. You always bet fifty cents. You’ve got no more 
faith than a flea, that’s why. 
harry [shouting]. How do yon like this, Nick? [He 
is really busy now, all legs and arms.] 
nick [turning and watching]. Not bad. Hang around. 
You can wait table. [To wesley]. Hey. Wesley. Can 
you play that again tonight? 
wesley [turning, but still playing the piano], I don't 


410 William Saroyan 

know for sure, Mr. Nick. I can play something. 

kick. Good. You hang around, wo. [He goes behind 
the bar.] 

[The atmosphere is now one of warm, natural, Ameri¬ 
can ease; every man innocent and good; each doing 
what he believes he should do, or what he must do. 
There is deep American naivete and faith in the be¬ 
havior of each person. No one is competing with 
anyone else. No one hates anyone else. Every man 
is living, and letting live. Each man is following his 
destiny as he feels it should be followed; or is aban¬ 
doning it as he feels it must, by now, be abandoned; 
or is forgetting it for the moment as he feels he 
should forget it. Although everyone is dead serious, 
there is unmistakable smiling and humor in the 
scene; a sense of the human body and spirit emerg¬ 
ing from the world-imposed state of stress and fret¬ 
fulness, fear and awkwardness, to the more natural 
state of casualness and grace. Each person belongs 
to the environment, in his own person, as himself: 
wesley is playing better than ever, harry is hoofing 
better than ever, nick is behind the bar shining 
glasses, joe is smiling at the toy and studying it. 
Dudley, although still troubled, is at least calm 
now and full of melancholy poise, willde, at the 
marble game, is happy. The arab is deep i» his 
memories, where he wants to be. Into this scene and 
atmosphere comes buck, blick is the sort of human 
being you dislike at sight. He is no different from 
anybody else physically. His face is an ordinary face. 
There is nothing obviously wrong with him, and yet 
you know that it is impossible, even by the most 
generous expansion of understanding, to accept him 
as a human being . He is the strong man without 
strength-strong only among the weak—the weak- 


The Time of Your life 411 
ling who uses force on the weaker, blick enters casu¬ 
ally, as if he were a customer, and immediately 
harry begins slowing down.] 
blick [oily, and with mock-friendliness]. Hello, Nick. 
nick [stopping his work and leaning across the bar]. 
What do you want to come here for? You're too big 
a man for a little honky-tonk. 
blick [flattered]. Now, Nick. 

nick. Important people never come here. Here. Have 
a drink. [Whiskey bottle.] 
blick. Thanks, I don’t drink. 
nick [drinking the drink himself]. Well, why don’t 
you? 

blick. I have responsibilities. 
nick. You're head of the lousy Vice Squad. There’s 
no vice here. 

buck [sharply]. Street-walkers are working out of this 
place. 

nick [angry]. What do you want? 
blick [loudly]. I just want you to know that it’s got to 
stop. 

[The music stops. The mechanical toy runs down. 
There is absolute silence, and a strange fearfulness 
and disharmony in the atmosphere now. harry 
doesn’t know what to do with his hands or feet. 
Wesley's arms hang at his sides, joe quietly pushes 
the toy to one side of the table, eager to study what 
is happening. WILLIE stops playing the marble game, 
turns around and begins to wait. Dudley straightens 
up very, very vigorously, as if to say: “Nothing can 
scare me. I know love is the only thing.” The arab 
is the same as ever, but watchful, nick is arrogantly 
aloof. There is a moment of this silence and tension, 
as though blick were waiting for everybody to ac¬ 
knowledge his presence. He is obviously flattered by 


412 William Saroyan 

the acknowledgment of harry, Dudley, wesley, and 
willie, but a little irritated by nick's aloofness and 
unfriendliness .] 

nick. Don’t look at me. I can't tell a street-walker from 
a lady. You married? 

buck. You're not asking me questions. Vm telling you. 

nick [interrupting]. You’re a man of about forty-five 
or so. You ought to know better. 

BLICK [angry]. Street-walkers are working out of this 
place. 

nick [beginning to shout]. Now, don’t start any trou¬ 
ble with me. People come here to drink and loaf 
around. I don’t care who they are. 

blick. Well, I do. 

nick. The only way to find out if a lady is a street¬ 
walker is to walk the streets with her, go to bed, and 
make sure. You wouldn't want to do that. You’d 
like to, of course. 

blick. Any more of it, and I’ll have your joint closed. 

nick [very casually, without ill-will]. Listen. I've got 
no use for you, or anybody like you. You’re out to 
change the world from something bad to something 
worse. Something like yourself. 

blick [furious pause, and contempt ]. I’ll be back to¬ 
night. [He begins to go.] 

nick [very angry but very calm]. Do yourself a big 
favor and don't come back tonight. Send somebody 
else. I don’t like your personality. 

blick [casually, hut with contempt ]. Don’t break any 
laws. I don’t like yours, either. [He looks the place 
over , and goes.] 

[There is a moment of silence. Then willie turns and 
puts a new nickel in the slot and starts a new game. 
weslev turns to the piano and rather falteringly be¬ 
gins to play. His heart really isn't in it. harry walks 
about, unable to dance. Dudley lapses into his cus- 


The Time of You t Life 413 
tomary melancholy, at a table, nick whistles a little: 
suddenly stops, joe winds the toy.] 
joe [comically j. Nick. You going to kill that man? 
nick. I’m disgusted. 
joe. Yeah? Why? 

nick. Why should I get worked up over a guy like 
that? Why should I hate himf He's nothing. He’s 
nobody. He’s a mouse. But every time he comes into 
this place I get burned up. He doesn’t want to drink. 
He doesn't want to sit down. He doesn't want to 
take things easy. Tell me one thing? 
joe. Do my best. 

nick. What’s a punk like that want to go out and try 
to change the world for? 

joe [amazed]. Does he want to change the world, too? 
nick [ irritated]. You know what I mean. What’s he 
want to bother people for? He’s sick. 
joe [almost to himself, reflecting on the fact that blick 
too wants to change the world]. I guess he wants to 
change the world at that. 

NICK. So I go to work and hate him. 
joe. It's not him, Nick. It’s everything. 
nick. Yeah, I know. But I've still got no use for him. 
He's no good. You know what I mean? He hurts 
little people. [Confused.] One of the girls tried to 
commit suicide on account of him. [Furiously.] I’ll 
break his head if he hurts anybody around here. 
This is my joint [Afterthought.] Or anybody's feel - 
ings, either. 

joe. He may not be so bad, deep down underneath. 
nick. I know all about him. He's no good. 

[During this talk wesley has really begun to play the 
piano, the toy is rattling again, and little by little 
harry has begun to dance, nick has come around 
the bar, and now, very much like a child—forgetting 
all his anger—is watching the toy work. He begins 


414 William Saroyan 

to smile at everything: turns and listens to wesley: 
watches harry; nods at the arab; shakes his head 
at Dudley; and gestures amiably about willie. It’s 
his joint all right. It’s a good, low-down, honky- 
tonk American place that lets people alone.] 

kick. I’ve got a good joint. There’s nothing wrong 
here. Hey. Comedian. Stick to the dancing tonight. 

I think you’re O.K. Wesley? Do some more o£ that 
tonight That's fine! 

harry. Thanks, Nick. Gosh, I’m on my way at last 
[On telephone .] Hello, Ma? Is that you, Ma? Harry. 

I got the job. [He hangs up and walks around, smil¬ 
ing.] 

nick [watching the toy all this time]. Say, that really 
is something. What is that, anyway? 

[mary l. comes in.] 

joe [holding it toward nick, and mary l.]. Nick, this 
is a toy. A contraption devised by the cunning of 
man to drive boredom, or grief, or anger out of 
children. A noble gadget. A gadget, I might say, in¬ 
finitely nobler than any other I can think of at the 
moment. [Everybody gathers around joe’s table to 
look at the toy. The toy stops working, joe winds 
the music box. Lifts a whistle: blows it, making a 
very strange, funny and sorrowful sound.] Delight¬ 
ful. Tragic, but delightful. 

[wesley plays the music-box theme on the piano, mary 
l. takes a table.] 

nick. Joe. That girl, Kitty. What’s she mean, calling 
me a dentist? I wouldn’t hurt anybody, let alone a 
tooth. 

[NICK goes to MARY L.’s table. HARRY imitates the toy. 
Dances. The piano music comes up, the light dims 
slowly, while the piano solo continues .] 


CURTAIN 


Act two 


An hour later. All the people who were at nick’s when 
the curtain came down are still there, joe at his table, 
quietly shuffling and turning a deck of cards, and at 
the same time watching the face of the woman, and 
looking at the initials on her handbag, as though they 
were the symbols of the lost glory of the world. The 
woman, in turn, very casually regards joe occasionally. 
Or rather senses him; has sensed him in fact the whole 
hour. She is mildly tight on beer, and joe himself is 
tight, but as always completely under control; simply 
sharper. The others are about, at tables, and so on. 

joe. Is It Madge—Laubowitz? 
mary. Is what what? 
joe. Is the name Mabel Lepescu? 
mary. What name? 

joe. The name the initials M. L. stand for. The ini¬ 
tials on your bag. 
mary. No. 

joe [after a long pause, thinking deeply what the 
name might be, turning a card, looking into the 
beautiful face of the woman]. Margie Longworthy? 
mary [all this is very natural and sincere, no comedy 
on the part of the people involved: they are both 
solemn, being drunk]. No. 

joe [few voice higher-pitched, as though he were grow¬ 
ing alarmed]. Midge Laurie? [mary shakes her 
head.] My initials are J. T. 
mary [Pause.] John? 
joe. No. [Pause.] Martha Lancaster? 


416 William Saroyan 
mary. No. [Slight pause.] Joseph? 
joe. Well, not exactly. That’s my first name, but every¬ 
body calls me Joe. The last name Is the tough one. 
I’ll help you a little. I'm Irish. [Pause.] Is it just 
plain Mary? 

mary. Yes, it is. I'm Irish, too. At least on my father’s 
side. English on my mother's side. 
joe. I’m Irish on both sides. Mary’s one of my favorite 
names. I guess that’s why I didn't think of it. I met 
a girl in Mexico City named Mary once. She was 
an American from Philadelphia. She got married 
there. In Mexico City, I mean. While I was there. 
We were in love, too. At least I was. You never know 
about anyone else. They were engaged, you see, 
and her mother was with her, so they went through 
with it. Must have been six or seven years ago. 
She’s probably got three or four children by this 
time. 

mary. Are you still in love with her? 
joe. Well—no. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure. I 
guess I am. I didn’t even know she was engaged 
until a couple of days before they got married. I 
thought 1 was going to marry her. I kept thinking 
all the time about the kind of kids we would be 
likely to have. My favorite was the third one. The 
first two were fine. Handsome and fine and intelli¬ 
gent, but that third one was different Dumb and 
goofy-looking. I liked him a lot. When she told me 
she was going to be married, I didn’t feel so bad 
about the first two, it was that dumb one. 
mary [after a pause of some few seconds]. What do 
you do? 

joe. Do? To tell you the truth, nothing. 
mary. Do you always drink a great deal? 
joe [scientifically]. Not always. Only when I’m awake. 
I sleep seven or eight hours every night, you know. 


The Time of Tour Life 417 
mary. How nice. I mean to drink when you're awake. 
joe [thoughtfully]. It’s a privilege. 
mary. Do you really like to drink? 
joe [positively]. As much as I like to breathe. 
mary [beautifully]. Why? 

joe [dramatically]. Why do I like to drink? [Pause.] 
Because I don't like to be gypped. Because I don’t 
like to be dead most of the time and just a little 
alive every once in a long while. [Pause.] If I don’t 
drink, I become fascinated by unimportant things— 
like everybody else. 1 get busy. Do things. All kinds 
of little stupid things, fen- all kinds of little stupid 
reasons. Proud, selfish, ordinary things. I’ve done 
them. Now 2 don’t do anything. I live all the time. 
Then I go to sleep. [Pause.] 
mary. Do you sleep well? 
joe [facing it for granted]. Of course. 
mary [quietly, almost with tenderness]. What are your 
plans? 

joe [loudly, but also tenderly]. Plans? I haven't got 
any. I just get up. 

mary [beginning to understand everything]. Oh, yes. 
Yes, of course. 

[dudley puts a nickel in the phonograph.] 
joe [thoughtfully]. Why do I drink? [Pause, while he 
thinks about it. The thinking appears to be pro¬ 
found and complex, and has the effect of giving his 
face a very comical and naive expression.] That 
question calls for a pretty complicated answer. [He 
smiles abstractly.] 
mary. Oh, I didn’t mean— 

joe [swiftly, gallantly]. No. No. I insist. I know why. 

It’s just a matter of finding words. Little ones. 
mary. It really doesn’t matter. 
joe [seriously]. Oh, yes, it does. [Clinically.] Now, why 
do I drink? [Scientifically.] No. Why does anybody 


418 William Saroyan 

drink? [Working it out.] Every day has twenty-four 
hours. 

mary [sadly, but brightly ]. Yes, that’s true. 
joe. Twenty-four hours. Out of the twenty-four hours 
at least twenty-three and a half are—my God, I don’t 
know why-dull, dead, boring, empty, and murder¬ 
ous. Minutes on the clock, not time of living. It 
doesn't make any difference who you are or what 
you do, twenty-three and a half hours of the twenty- 
four are spent waiting. 
mary. Waiting? 

joe [gesturing, loudly]. And the more you wait, the 
less there is to wait for. 

mary [attentively, beautifully his student]. Oh? 
joe [continuing]. That goes on for days and days, and 
weeks and months and years, and years, and the first 
thing you know all the years are dead. All the min¬ 
utes are dead. You yourself are dead. There’s noth¬ 
ing to wait for any more. Nothing except minutes 
on the clock. No time of life. Nothing but minutes, 
and idiocy. Beautiful, bright, intelligent idiocy. 
[Pause.] Does that answer your question? 

MARY { earnestly ]. I’m afraid it does. Thank you. You 
shouldn’t have gone to all the trouble. 
joe. No trouble at all. [Pause.] You have children? 
mary. Yes. Two. A son and a daughter. 
joe [ delighted ]. How swell. Do they look like you? 
mary. Yes. 

joe. Then why are you sad? 

mary. I was always sad. It’s just that after I was mar¬ 
ried I was allowed to drink. 
joe [eagerly]. Who are you waiting for? 
mary. No one. 

joe [smiling]. I’m not waiting for anybody, either. 
mary. My husband, of course. 


The Time of Your Life 41® 


joe. Oh, sure. 
mary. He’s a lawyer. 

joe [standing, leaning on the table]. He's a great guy. 

I like him. I’m very fond of him. 
mary [listening]. You have responsibilities? 
joe [loudly]. One, and thousands. As a matter of fact, 
I feel responsible to everybody. At least to every¬ 
body I meet. I've been trying for three years to find 
out if it’s possible to live what I think is a civilized 
life. I mean a life that can’t hurt any other life. 
mary. You're famous? 

joe. Very. Utterly unknown, but very famous. Would 
you like to dance? 
mary. All right. 

joe [loudly]. I'm sorry. I don’t dance. I didn't think 
you’d like to. 

mary. To teil you the truth, I don't like to dance at 
all. 

joe [proudly-commentator]. 1 can hardly walk. 
mary. You mean you're tight? 
joe [smiling]. No. I mean all the time. 
mary [loo/ting at him closely]. Were you ever in Paris? 
joe. In 1929, and again in 1934. 
mary. What month of 1934? 
joe. Most of April, all of May, and a little of June. 
mary. I was there in November and December that 
year. 

joe. We were there almost at the same time. You were 
married? 

mary. Engaged. [They are silent a moment, looking at 
one another. Quietly and with great charm.] Are 
you really in love with me? 
joe. Yes. 

mary. Is it the champagne? 

joe. Yes. Partly, at least. [He sits down.] 


420 William Saroyan 

mary. If you don’t see me again, will you be very un¬ 
happy? 
joe. Very. 

mary [getting up]. I’m so pleased, [joe is deeply 
grieved that she is going. In fact, he is almost panic- 
stricken about it, getting up in a way that is full of 
furious sorrow'and regret .] I must go now. Please 
don’t get up. [joe is up, staring at her with amaze¬ 
ment .] Good-by. 
joe [sirop/y]. Good-by. 

[The woman stands looking at him a moment, then 
turns and goes, joe Stands staring after her for a 
long time. Just as he is slowly sitting down again, 
the newsboy enters, and goes to joe's table.] 
newsboy. Paper, Mister? 
joe. How many you got this dme? 
newsboy. Eleven. 

[joe buys them alll, looks at the lousy headlines, throws 
them away. The newsboy looks of joe, amazed. He 
walks over to nick at the bar.] 
newsboy [troubled]. Hey, Mister, do you own this 
place? 

nick [casually but emphatically]. I own this place. 
newsboy. Can you use a great lyric tenor? 
nick [almost to himself]. Great lyric tenor? [Loudly.] 
Who? 

newsboy [loud and the least bit angry]. Me. I’m get¬ 
ting too big to sell papers. I don’t want to holler 
headlines all the time. I want to sing. You can use 
a great lyric tenor, can’t you? 
nick. What’s lyric about you? 
newsboy [voice high-pitched, confused ]. My voice. 
nick. Oh. [Slight pause, giving in.] All right, then— 
sing! 

[The newsboy breaks into swift and beautiful song: 


The Time of Your Life 421 
"When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” nick and joe listen 
carefully: nick with wonder, joe with amazement 
and delight .] 
newsboy [singing]. 

When Irish eyes are smiling, 

Sure ’tis like a morn in Spring. 

In the lilt of Irish laughter. 

You can hear the angels sing. 

When Irish hearts are happy, 

All the world seems bright and gay. 

But when Irish eyes are smiling— 

nick [loudly, swiftly]. Are you Irish? 
newsboy [speaking swiftly, loudly, a little impatient 
with the irrelevant question]. No. I’m Greek. [He 
finishes the song, singing louder than ever.] Sure 
they steal your heart away. [He turns to nick dra¬ 
matically, like a vaudeville singer begging his audi¬ 
ence for applause, nick studies the boy eagerly, joe 
gets to his feet and leans toward the boy and nick.] 
nick. Not bad. Let me hear you again about a year 
from now. 

newsboy [thrilled]. Honest? 
nick. Yeah. Along about November 7th, 1940. 
newsboy [happier than ever before in his life, running 
over to joe]. Did you hear it too, Mister? 
joe. Yes, and it’s great. What part of Greece? 
newsboy. Salonica. Gosh, Mister. Thanks. 
joe. Don't wait a year. Come back with some papers 
a little later. You’re a great singer. 
newsboy [thrilled and excited]. Aw, thanks. Mister. So 
long. [Running, to nick.] Thanks, Mister. [He runs 
out. joe and nick look at the swinging doors, joe 
sits down, nick laughs .] 


422 William Saroyan 

kick. Joe, people are so wonderful. Look at that kid. 
joe. Of course they’re wonderful. Every one of them 
is wonderful. 

[mc carthy and krupp come in, talking, mc carthy 
is a big man in work clothes, which make him seem 
very young. He is wearing black jeans, and a blue 
workman’s shirt. No tie. No hat. He has broad 
shoulders, a lean intelligent face, thick black hair. 
In his right back pocket is the longshoreman's hook. 
His arms are long and hairy. His sleeves are rolled 
up to just below his elbows. He is a casual man, 
easy-going in movement, sharp in perception, swift 
in appreciation of charm or innocence or comedy, 
and gentle in spirit. His speech is clear and full of 
warmth. His voice is powerful, but modulated. He 
enjoys the world, in spite of the mess it is, and he 
is fond of people, in spite of the mess they are. 
krupp is not quite as tall or broad-shouldered as 
McCarthy. He is physically encumbered by his 
uniform, club, pistol, belt, and cap. And he is 
plainly not at home in the role of policeman. His 
movement is stiff and unintentionally pompous. He 
is a naive man, essentially good. His understanding 
is less than McCarthy's, but he is honest and he 
doesn’t try to bluff.] 

krupp. You don't understand what I mean. Hi-ya, Joe. 
joe. Hello, Krupp. 
mc carthy. Hi-ya, Joe. 
joe. Hello, McCarthy. 

KRUPP. Two beers, Nick. [To MC carthy.] All I do is 
carry out orders, carry out orders. I don't know what 
the idea is behind the order. Who it’s for, or who 
it's against, or why. All I do is carry it out. 

[nick gives them beer.] 
mc carthy. You don't read enough. 


The Time of Your Life 423 
krupp. I do read. I read The Examiner every morning. 

The Call-Bulletin every night. 
mc carthy. And carry out orders. What are the orders 
now? 

krupp. To keep the peace down here on the water¬ 
front. 

McCarthy. Keep it for who? [To joe.] Right? 
joe [sorrowfully]. Right. 

krupp. How do I know for who? The peace. Just keep 
it. 

mccarthy. It’s got to be kept for somebody. Who 
would you suspect it’s kept for? 
krupp. For citizens! 
mccarthy, I'm a citizen! 
krupp. All right, I’m keeping it for you. 
mccarthy. By hitting me over the head with a club? 
[To joe.] Right? 

joe [melancholy, with remembrance ]. I don't know. 
krupp. Mac, you know I never hit you over the head 
with a club. 

mccarthy. But you will if you’re on duty at the time 
and happen to stand on the opposite side of myself, 
on duty. 

krupp. We went to Mission High together. We were 
always good friends. The only time we ever fought 
was that time over Alma Haggerty. Did you marry 
Alma Haggerty? [To joe.] Right? 
joe. Everything's right 

mccarthy. No. Did you? [To joe.] Joe, are you with 
me or against me? 

joe. I’m with everybody. One at a time. 
krupp. No. And that’s just what I mean. 
mccarthy. You mean neither one of us is going to 
marry the thing we’re fighting for? 
krupp. I don’t even know what it is. 


424 William Saroyan 

MCCARTHY. You don’t read enough, I tell you. 
krupp. Mac, you don’t know what you’re fighting for, 
either. 

mc carthy. It's so simple, it’a fantastic 
krupp. All right, what are you fighting for? 
mccarthy. For the rights of the inferior. Right? 
joe. Something like that. 
krupp. The who? 

mc carthy. The inferior. The world full of Mahoneys 
who haven't got what it takes to make monkeys out 
of everybody else, near by. The men who were cre¬ 
ated equal. Remember? 
krupp. Mac, you’re not inferior. 
mc carthy. I’m a longshoreman. And an idealist. I’m 
a man with too much brawn to be an intellectual, 
exclusively. I married a small, sensitive, cultured 
woman so that my kids would be sissies instead of 
suckers. A strong man with any sensibility has no 
choice in this world but to be a heel, or a worker. 
I haven’t the heart to be a heel, so I'm a worker. 
I’ve got a son in high school who’s already thinking 
of being a writer. 
krupp. I wanted to be a writer once. 
joe. Wonderful. [He puts down the paper, looks at 
krupp and mc carthy.] 

mc carthy. They all wanted to be writers. Every ma¬ 
niac in the world that ever brought about the mur¬ 
der of people through war started out in an attic or 
a basement writing poetry. It stank. So they got even 
by becoming important heels. And it's still going on. 
krupp. Is it really, Joe? 
joe. Look at today’s paper. 

mccarthv. Right now on Telegraph Hill is some 
punk who is trying to be Shakespeare. Ten years 
from now he’ll be a senator. Or a communist 


The Time of Tour Life 425 
krupp. Somebody ought to do something about it. 
mc carthy [mischievously, with laughter in his voice]. 
The thing to do is to have more magazines. Hun¬ 
dreds of them. Thousands. Print everything they 
write, so they’ll believe they’re immortal. That way 
keep them from going haywire. 
krupp. Mac, you ought to be a writer yourself. 
mc carthy. I hate the tribe. They’re mischief-makers. 
Right? 

joe [sau/tfy]. Everything’s right. Right and wrong, 
krupp. Then why do you read? 
mccarthv [laughing]. It’s relaxing. It’s soothing. 
[Pause.] The lousiest people bom into the world 
are writers. Language is all right. It’s the people who 
use language that are lousy. [The arab has moved a 
little closer, and is listening carefully. To the Arab.] 
What do you think. Brother? 
arab [after making many faces, thinking very deeply]. 
No foundation. All the way down the line. What. 
What-not. Nothing. I go walk and look at sky. [He 
goes.] 

krupp. What? What-not? [To joe.] What’s that mean? 
joe [slowly, thinking, remembering ]. What? What-not? 
That means this side, that side. Inhale, exhale. 
What: birth. What-not: death. The inevitable, the 
astounding, the magnificent seed of growth and de¬ 
cay in all things. Beginning, and end. That man, in 
his own way, is a prophet. He is one who, with the 
help of beer, is able to reach that state of deep un¬ 
derstanding in which what and what-not, the reason¬ 
able and the unreasonable, are one . 

MCCARTHY. Right 

krupp. If you can understand that kind of talk, how 
can you be a longshoreman? 
mc carthy. I come, from a long line of McCarthys who 


428 William Saroyan 

never married or slept with anything but the most 
powerful and quarrelsome flesh. [He drinks beer.] 
krupp. I could listen to you two guys for hours, but 
I'll be damned If I know what the hell you’re talk¬ 
ing about. 

McCarthy. The consequence is that all the McCar- 
thys are too great and too strong to be heroes. Only 
the weak and unsure perform the heroic. They’ve 
got to. The more heroes you have, the worse the 
history of the world becomes. Right? 
joe. Go outside and look at it. 
krupp. You sure can philos—philosoph— Boy, you can 
talk. 

Me carthy. I wouldn’t talk this way to anyone but a 
man in uniform, and a man who couldn’t under¬ 
stand a word of what I was saying. The party I’m 
speaking of, my friend, is YOU. 

[The phone rings, harry gets up from kis table sud¬ 
denly and begins a new dance.] 
krupp [noticing him, with great authority ]. Here. 

Here. What do you think you’re doing? 
harry [stopping]. I just got an idea for a new dance. 

I’m trying it out. Nick. Nick, the phone’s ringing. 
krupp [to mc carthy]. Has he got a right to do that? 
McCarthy. The living have danced from the begin¬ 
ning of time. I might even say, the dance and the 
life have moved along together, until now we have— 
[To harry.] Go into your dance, son, and show us 
what we have. 

harry. I haven't got it worked out completely yet, but 
it starts out like this. [He dances.] 
hick [on phone], Nick's Pacific Street Restaurant, Sa¬ 
loon, and Entertainment Palace. Good afternoon. 
Nick speaking. [Listens.] Who? [Turns around.] Is 
there a Dudley Bostwick in the joint? 

[Dudley jumps to his feet and goes to phone.] 


The Time of Your Life ATI 
Dudley [on phone]. Hello. Elsie? [Listens.] You’re com¬ 
ing down? [Elated. To the saloon.] She’s coming 
down. [Pause.] No. I won't drink. Aw, gosh, Elsie. 
[He hangs up, looks about him strangely, as if he 
were just born, walks around touching things, put¬ 
ting chairs in place, and so on.] 

McCarthy [to harry]. Splendid. Splendid. 
harry. Then I go into this little routine. [He demon¬ 
strates.] 

krupp. Is that good, Mac? 

mccarthy. It’s awful, hut it’s honest and ambitious, 
like everything else in this great country. 
harry. Then I work along into this. [He demon¬ 
strates.] And this is where I really get going. [He 
finishes the dance.] 

mc carthy. Excellent. A most satisfying demonstration 
of the present state of the American body and soul. 
Son, you’re a genius. 

harry [delighted, shaking hands with mccarthy]. I 
go on in front of an audience for the first time in my 
life tonight. 

mccarthy. They’ll be delighted. Where’d you learn 
to dance? 

harry. Never took a lesson in my life. I’m a natural- 
bom dancer. And comedian, too. 
mccarthy [astounded]. You can make people laugh7 
harry [dumbly]. I can be funny, but they won’t laugh. 
mc carthy. That's odd. Why not? 
harry. I don't know. They just won’t laugh. 
mc carthy. Would you care to be funny now? 
harry. I'd like to try out a new monologue I've been 
thinking about. 

mccarthy. Please do. I promise you if it's funny I 
shall roar with laughter. 

harry. This is it. [Goes; into the act, with much en¬ 
ergy.] I'm up at Sharkey’s on Turk Street. It’s a 


428 William Saroyan 

quarter to nine, daylight saving. -Wednesday, the 
eleventh. What I’ve got is a headache and a 1918 
nickel. What I want is a cup o£ coffee. If I buy a cup 
of coffee with the nickel, I've got to walk home. I’ve 
got an eight-ball problem. George the Greek is 
shooting a game of snooker with Pedro the Filipino. 
I’m in rags. They’re wearing thirty-five dollar suits, 
made to order. I haven’t got a cigarette. They re 
smoking Bobby Bums panatelas. I'm thinking it 
over, like I always do. George the Greek is in a 
tough spot. If I buy a cup of coffee. I’ll want another 
cup. What happens? My ear achesl My ear. George 
the Greek takes the cue. Chalks it. Studies the table. 
Touches the cue-ball delicately. Tick. What hap¬ 
pens? He makes the three-balll What do I do? I get 
confused. / go out and buy a morning paper. What 
the hell do I want with a morning paper? What I 
want is a cup of coffee, and a good used car. I go 
out and buy a morning paper. Thursday, the 
twelfth. Maybe the headline’s about me. I take a 
quick look. No. The headline is not about me. It’s 
about Hitler. Seven thousand miles away. I’m here. 
Who the hell is Hitler? Who’s behind the eight- 
ball? I turn around. Everybody’s behind the eight- 
ball! 

[Pause, krupp moves toward harry as if to make an 
important arrest, harry moves to the swinging 
doors. MC CARTHY Stops KRUPP.] 
mc carthy [to harry]. It’s the funniest thing I've ever 
heard. Or seen, for that matter. 
harry [coming back to mccarthy]. Then, why dont 
you laugh? 

mc carthy. I don’t know, yet. 

HARRY. I’m always getting funny ideas that nobody 
will laugh at 


The Time of Tour Life 429 
MCCARTHY [thoughtfully]. It may be that you’ve stum¬ 
bled headlong into a new kind of comedy. 

HARRY. Well, what good is it if it doesn’t make any¬ 
body laugh? 

McCarthy. There are kinds of laughter, son. I must 
say, in all truth, that I am laughing, although not 
out loud. 

harry. I want to hear people laugh. Out loud. That’s 
why I keep thinking of funny things to say. 
mccarthy. Well They may catch on in time. Let’s 
go, Krupp. So long, Joe. [mc carthy and krupp go.] 
joe. So long. [After a moment’s pause.] Hey, Nick. 
nick. Yeah. 

joe. Bet McCarthy in the last race. 
nick. You're crazy. That horse Is a double-crossing, no¬ 
good— 

joe. Bet everything you've got on McCarthy. 
nick. I’m not betting a nickel on him. You bet every¬ 
thing you’ve got on McCarthy. 
joe. I don’t need money. 

nick. What makes you think McCarthy’s going to win? 
joe. McCarthy’s name’s McCarthy, isn't it? 
nick. Yeah. So what? 

joe. The horse named McCarthy is going to win, that's 
all. Today. 
nick. Why? 

joe. You do what I tell you, and everything will be 
all right. 

nick. McCarthy likes to talk, that’s alL [Pause.] 
Where’s Tom? 

joe. He’ll be around. He’ll be miserable, but he'll be 
around. Five or ten minutes more. 
nick. You don’t believe that Kitty, do you? About be¬ 
ing in burlesque? 

joe [very clearly]. I believe dreams sooner than sta¬ 
tistics. 


430 William Saroyan 

kick [ remembering ]. She sure is somebody. Called me 
a dentist. 

[tom, turning aboutconfused, troubled, comes in, and 
hurries to joe’s table.] 
joe. What's the matter? 
tom. Here's your five, Joe. I’m in trouble again. 
joe. II it’s not organic, it’ll cure itself. If it is organic, 
science will cure it. What is it, organic or non-or- 
ganic? 

tom. Joe, I don’t know— [He seems to be completely 
broken down.] 

joe. What’s eating you? I want you to go on an errand 
for me. 

tom. It’s Kitty. 
joe. What about her? 
tom. She’s up in her room, crying. 
joe. Crying? 

tom. Yeah, she’s been crying for over an hour. I been 
talking to her all this time, but she won’t stop. 
joe. What’s she crying about? 

tom. I don’t know. I couldn’t understand anything. 
She kept crying and telling me about a big house 
and collie dogs all around and flowers and one of 
her brothers dead and the other one lost somewhere. 
Joe, I can’t stand Kitty crying. 
joe. You want to marry the girl? 
tom [nodding]. Yeah. 
joe [curious and sincere]. Why? 
tom. I don’t know why, exactly, Joe. [Pause.] Joe, I 
don’t like to think of Kitty out in the streets. I guess 
I love her, that’s all. 
joe. She’s a nice girl. 

tom. She’s like an angel. She's not like those other 
street-walkers. 

joe [swiftly]. Here. Take all this money and run next 


The Time of Tour Life 431 
door to Frankie's and bet it on the nose of Mc¬ 
Carthy. 

tom [swiftly]. All this money, Joe? McCarthy? 
joe. Yeah. Hurry. 

tom [going]. Ah, Joe. If McCarthy wins we’ll be rich. 
joe. Get going, will you? 

[tom runs out and nearly knocks over the arab com¬ 
ing back in. nick fills him a beer without a word.] 
arab. No foundation, anywhere. Whole world. No 
foundation. All the way down the line. 
nick [angry]. McCarthy! Just because you got a little 
lucky this morning, you have to go to work and 
throw away eighty bucks. 
joe. He wants to marry her. 
nick. Suppose she doesn't want to marry himt 
joe [amazed]. Oh, yeah. [Thinking.] Now, why 
wouldn't she want to marry a nice guy like Tom? 
nick. She’s been in burlesque. She’s had flowers sent to 
her by European royalty. She’s dined with young 
men of quality and social position. She’s above Tom. 
[tom comes running in.] 

tom [disgusted]. They were running when I got there. 
Frankie wouldn’t take the bet. McCarthy didn't get 
a call till the stretch. I thought we were going to 
save all this money. Then McCarthy won by two 
lengths. 

joe. What’d he pay, fifteen to one? 
tom. Better, but Frankie wouldn't take the bet. 
nick [throwing a dish towel across the room]. Well, for 
the love of Mike. 
joe. Give me the money. 

tom [giving back the money]. We would have had 
about a thousand five hundred dollars. 
joe [bored, casually, inventing]. Go up to Schwab- 
acher-Frey and get me the biggest Rand-McNally 


452 William Saroyan 

map of the nations of Europe they’ve got. On your 
way back stop at one of the pawn shops on Third 
Street, and buy me a good revolver and some car¬ 
tridges. 

tom. She’s up in her room crying, Joe. 
joe. Go get me those things. 

nick. What are you going to do, study the map, and 
then go out and shoot somebody? 
joe. i want to read the names of some European towns 
and rivers and valleys and mountains. 
nick. What do you want with the revolver? 
joe. I want to study it. I’m interested in things. Here’s 
twenty dollars, Tom. Now go get them things. 
tom. A big map of Europe. And a revolver. 
joe. Get a good one. Tell the man you don't know 
anything about firearms and you’re trusting him not 
to fool you. Don’t pay more than ten dollars. 
tom. Joe, you got something on your mind. Don’t go 
fool with a revolver. 
joe. Be sure it’s a good one. 
tom. Joe. 

joe [ irritated ]. What, Tom? 

tom. Joe, what do you send me out for crazy things for 
all the time? 

joe [angry]. They're not crazy, Tom. Now, get going. 
tom. What about Kitty, Joe? 
joe. Let her cry. It'll do her good. 
tom. If she comes in here while I’m gone, talk to her, 
will you, Joe? Tell her about me? 
joe. O. K. Get going. Don’t load that gun. Just buy it 
and bring it here. 

tom [going]. You won’t catch me loading any gun. 
joe. Wait a minute. Take these toys away. 
tom. Where’ll I take them? 

joe. Give them to some kid. [Pause.] No. Take them 


The Time of Your Life 45 $ 

up to Kitty. Toys stopped me from crying once. 
That’s the reason I had you buy them. I wanted to 
see if I could find out why they stopped me from 
crying. I remember they seemed awfully stupid at 
the time. 

tom. Shall I, Joe? Take them up to Kitty? Do you 
think they’d stop her from crying? 
joe. They might. You get curious about the way they 
work and you forget whatever it is you're remember¬ 
ing that’s making you cry. That’s what they're for. 
tom. Yeah. Sure. The girl at the store asked me what 
I wanted with toys. I’ll take them up to Kitty. [Trag¬ 
ically.] She’s like a little girl. [He goes] 

WESLEY, Mr. Nick, can I play the piano again? 
nick. Sure. Practice all you like—until I tell you to 
stop. 

Wesley. You going to pay me for playing the piano? 
nick. Sure. I’ll give you enough to get by on. 
wesley [amazed, and delighted]. Get money for playing 
the piano? [He goes to the piano and begins to play 
quietly, harry goes up on the little stage and listens 
to the music. After a while he begins a soft-shoe 
dance.] 

nick. What were you crying about? 
joe. My mother. 
nick. What about her? 

joe. She was dead. I stopped crying when they gave me 
the toys. 

[nick’s mother, a little old woman of sixty or so, 
dressed plainly in black, her face shining, comes in 
briskly, chattering loudly in Italian, gesturing, nick 
is delighted to see her.] 

nick’s mother [»'n Italian]. Everything all right, 
Nickie? 

nick [in Italian]. Sure, Mamma. 


434 William Saroyan 

[nick’s mother leaves as gaily and as noisily as she 
came, after half a minute of loud Italian family 
talk.] 

joe. Who was that? 

nick [to joe, proudly and a little sadly]. My mother. 

[Stiff looking at the swinging doors.] 
joe. What'd she say? 

nick. Nothing. Just wanted to see me. [Pause.] What 
do you want with that gun? 
joe. I study things, Nick. 

[An old man who looks as if he might have been Kit 
Carson at one time walks in importantly, moves 
about, and finally stands at joe’s table.] 
kit carson. Murphy's the name. Just an old trapper. 

Mind if I sit down? 
joe. Be delighted. What’ll you drink? 
kit carson [sitting down]. Beer. Same as I've been 
drinking. And thanks. 
joe [to nick]. Glass of beer, Nick. 

[nick brings the beer to the table, Krr carson swallows 
it in one swig, wipes his big white mustache with 
the back of his right hand.] 

Krr carson [i moving in]. I don’t suppose you ever fell 
in love with a midget weighing thirty-nine pounds? 
joe [studying the man]. Can’t say I have, but have an¬ 
other beer. 

Krr carson [intimately]. Thanks, thanks. Down in Gal¬ 
lup, twenty years ago. Fellow by the name of Rufus 
Jenkins came to town with six white horses and two 
black ones. Said he wanted a man to break the horses 
for him because his left leg was wood and he 
couldn’t do it. Had a meeting at Parker’s Mercantile 
Store and finally came to blows, me and Henry Wal- 
pal. Bashed his head with a brass cuspidor and ran 
away to Mexico, but he didn’t die. Couldn’t speak 
a word. Took up with a cattle-breeder named Diego, 



The Time of Your Life 435 
educated in California. Spoke the language better 
than you and me. Said, Your job, Murph, is to feed 
them prize bulls. I said. Fine, what’ll I feed them? 
He said. Hay, lettuce, salt, beer, and aspirin. Came 
to blows two days later over an accordion he claimed 
I stole. I had borrowed it. During the fight I busted 
it over his head; ruined one of the finest accordions 
I ever saw. Grabbed a horse and rode back across 
the border. Texas. Got to talking with a fellow who 
looked honest. Turned out to be a Ranger who was 
looking for me. 

joe. Yeah. You were saying, a thirty-nine-pound 
midget. 

Krr carson. Will I ever forget that lady? Will I ever 
get over that amazon of small proportions? 

joe. Will you? 

Kir carson. If I live to be sixty. 

joe. Sixty? You look more than sixty now. 

kit carson. That’s trouble showing in my face. Trou¬ 
ble and complications. I was fifty-eight three months 
ago. 

joe. That accounts for it, then. Go ahead, tell me 
more. 

Krr carson. Told the Texas Ranger my name was 
Rothstein, mining engineer from Pennsylvania, 
looking for something worth while. Mentioned two 
places in Houston. Nearly lost an eye early one 
morning, going down the stairs. Ran into a six- 
footer with an iron claw where his right hand was 
supposed to be. Said, You broke up my home. Told 
him I was a stranger in Houston. The girls gathered 
at the top of the stairs to see a fight. Seven of them. 
Six feet and an iron claw. That’s bad on the nerves. 
Kicked him in the mouth when he swung for my 
head with the claw. Would have lost an eye except 
for quick thinking. He rolled into the gutter and 


486 William Saroyan 

pulled a gun. Fired seven times. I was bade upstairs, 
Left the place an hour later, dressed in silk and 
feathers, with a hat swung around over my face. Saw 
him standing on the comer, waiting. Said, Care for 
a wiggle? Said he didn't. X went on down the street 
and left town. I don’t suppose you ever had to put 
a dress on to save your skin, did you? 
joe. No, and X never fell in love with a midget weigh¬ 
ing thirty-nine pounds. Have another beer? 
kit carson. Thanks. [Swallows glass of beer.] Ever try 
to herd cattle on a bicycle? 
joe. No. I never got around to that. 
jut carson. Left Houston with sixty cents in my 
pocket, gift of a girl named Lucinda. Walked four¬ 
teen miles in fourteen hours. Big house with barb¬ 
wire all around, and big dogs. One thing I never 
could get around. Walked past the gate, anyway, 
from hunger and thirst. Dogs jumped up and came 
for me. Walked right into them, growing older 
every second. Went up to the door and knocked. 
Big Negress opened the door, closed it quick. Said, 
On your way, white trash. Knocked again. Said, On 
your way. Again. On your way. Again. This time the 
old man himself opened the door, ninety, if he was 
a day. Sawed-off shotgun, too. Said, I ain’t looking 
for trouble, Father. I’m hungry and thirsty, name’s 
Cavanaugh. Took me in and made mint juleps for 
the two of us. Said, Living here alone. Father? Said, 
Drink and ask no questions. Maybe I am and maybe 
I ain’t. You saw the lady. Draw your own conclu¬ 
sions. I’d heard of that, but didn’t wink out of tact. 
If I told you that old Southern gentleman was my 
grandfather, you wouldn’t believe me, would you? 
joe. I might. 

kit carson. Well, it so happens he wasn't. Would 
have been romantic if he had been, though. 


The Time of Your Life 487 
joe. Where did you herd cattle on a bicycle? 
kit carson. Toledo, Ohio, 1918. 
joe. Toledo, Ohio? They don’t herd cattle in Toledo. 
kit carson. They don’t any more. They did in 1918. 
One fellow did, leastaways. Bookkeeper named Sam 
Gold. Straight from the East Side, New York. Som¬ 
brero, lariats, Bull Durham, two head of cattle and 
two bicycles. Called his place The Gold Bar Ranch, 
two acres, just outside the city limits. That was the 
year of the War, you’ll remember. 
joe. Yeah, I remember, but how about herding them 
two cows on a bicycle? How’d you do it? 
kit carson. Easiest thing in the world. Rode no hands. 
Had to, otherwise couldn’t lasso the cows. Worked 
for Sam Gold till the cows ran away. Bicycles scared 
them. They went into Toledo. Never saw hide nor 
hair of them again. Advertised in every paper, but 
never got them back. Broke his heart. Sold both 
bikes and returned to New York. Took four aces 
from a deck of red cards and walked to town. Poker. 
Fellow in the game named Chuck Collins, liked to 
gamble. Told him with a smile I didn’t suppose he’d 
care to bet a hundred dollars I wouldn’t hold four 
aces the next hand. Called it. My cards were red on 
the blank side. The other cards were blue. Plumb 
forgot all about it. Showed him four aces. Ace of 
spades, ace of clubs, ace of diamonds, ace of hearts. 
I’ll remember them four cards if I live to be sixty. 
Would have been killed on the spot except for the 
hurricane that year. 
joe. Hurricane? 

kit carson. You haven’t forgotten the Toledo hurri¬ 
cane of 1918, have you? 

joe. No. There was no hurricane in Toledo in 1918, 
or any other year. 

kit carson. For the love of God, then what do you sup- 


438 William Saroyan 

pose that commotion was? And how come I came to 
in Chicago, dream-walking down State Street? 
joe. I guess they scared you. 

kit carson. No, that wasn’t it. You go back to the pa¬ 
pers of November 1918, and I think you'll find there 
was a hurricane in Toledo. I remember sitting on 
the roof of a two-story house, floating northwest. 
joe [seriously]. Northwest? 

kit carson. Now, son, don’t tell me you don’t believe 
me, either? 

joe [pause. Very seriously, energetically and sharply]. 
Of course I believe you. Living is an art. It's not 
bookkeeping. It takes a lot of rehearsing for a man 
to get to be himself. 

kit carson [thoughtfully, smiling, and amazed]. You’re 
the first man I’ve ever met who believes me. 
joe [seriously]. Have another beer. 

[tom comes in with the Rand-McNally book, the re¬ 
volver, and the box of cartridges, kit goes to bar.] 
joe [to tom]. Did you give her the toys? 
tom. Yeah, I gave them to her. 
joe. Did she stop crying? 
tom. No. She started crying harder than ever. 
joe. That’s funny. I wonder why. 
tom. Joe, if I was a minute earlier, Frankie would 
have taken the bet and now we’d have about a thou¬ 
sand five hundred dollars. How much of it would 
you have given me, Joe? 
joe. If she’d marry you—all of iL 
tom. Would you, Joe? 

joe [opening packages, examining book first, and re¬ 
volver next]. Sure. In this realm there’s only one 
subject, and you’re it. It’s my duty to see that my 
subject is happy. 

tom. Joe, do you think we’ll ever have eighty dollars 
for a race sometime again when there's a fifteen-to- 


The Time of Your Life 439 
one shot that we like, weather good, track fast, they 
get off to a good start, our horse doesn't get a call 
till the stretch, we think we’re going to lose all that 
money, and then it wins, by a nose? 
joe. I didn’t quite get that. 
tom. You know what I mean. 

joe. You mean the impossible. No, Tom, we won't 
We were just a little late, that's all. 
tom. We might, Joe. 
joe. It’s not likely. 

tom. Then how am I ever going to make enough 
money to marry her? 

joe. I don’t know, Tom. Maybe you aren’t 
tom. Joe, I got to marry Kitty. [Shaking his head.] You 
ought to see the crazy room she lives in. 
joe. What kind of a room is it? 
tom. It's little. It crowds you in. It's bad, Joe. Kitty 
don’t belong in a place like that. 
joe. You want to take her away from there? 
tom. Yeah. I want her to live in a house where there’s 
room enough to live. Kitty ought to have a garden, 
or something. 

joe. You want to take care of her? 
tom. Yeah, sure, Joe. I ought to take care of somebody 
good that makes me feel like I’m somebody. 
joe. That means you’ll have to get a job. What can 
you do? 

tom. I finished high school, but I don’t know what I 
can do. 

joe. Sometimes when you think about it, what do you 
think you'd like to do? 

tom. Just sit around like you, Joe, and have somebody 
run errands for me and drink champagne and take 
things easy and never be broke and never worry 
about money. 

joe. That’s a noble ambition. 



440 William Saroyan 
nick [to joe]. How do you do it? 
joe. I really don’t know, but I think you've got to have 
the full co-operation of the Good Lord. 
nick. I can’t understand the way you talk. 

TOM. Joe, shall I go back and see if I can get her to 
stop crying? 

joe. Give me a hand and I'll go with you. 

tom [amazed], Whatl You’re going to get up already? 

joe. She’s crying, isn’t she? 

tom. She's crying. Worse than ever now. 

JOE. I thought the toys would stop her. 
tom. I’ve seen you sit in one place from four in the 
morning till two the next morning. 
joe. At my best, Tom, I don’t travel by foot. That’s 
all. Come on. Give me a hand. I’ll find some way to 
stop her from crying. 

tom [helping joe]. Joe, I never did tell you. You’re a 
different kind of a guy. 

JOE [swiftly, a little angry). Don’t be silly. I don't un¬ 
derstand things. I’m trying to understand them. 

[joe is rt little drunk. They go out together. The lights 
go down slowly, while wesley plays the piano, and 
come up slowly on.) 


Act three 

A cheap bed in nick’s to indicate room 21 of The New 
York Hotel, upstairs, around the comer from nick's. 
The bed can be at the center of nick's, or up on the 
little stage. Everything in nick's is the same, except 
that all the people are silent, immobile and in dark¬ 
ness, except wesley who is playing the piano softly 
and sadly, kitty duval, in a dress she has carried 


The Time of Your Life 441 
around with her from the early days in Ohio, is seated 
on the bed, tying a ribbon in her hair. She looks at 
herself in a hand mirror. She is deeply grieved at the 
change she sees in herself. She takes off the ribbon, 
angry and hurt. She lifts a book from the bed and tries 
to read. She begins to sob again. She picks up an old 
picture of herself and looks at it. Sobs harder than 
ever, falling on the bed and burying her face. There 
is a knock, as if at the door. 

kitty [sobbing]. Who is it? 

tom’s voice. Kitty, it’s me. Tom. Me and Joe. 

[joe, followed by tom, comes to the bed quietly, joe 
is holding a rather large toy carousel, joe studies 
kitty a moment. He sets the toy carousel on the 
floor, at the foot of kitty’s bed.] 
tom [standing over kitty and bending down close to 
her]. Don't cry any more, Kitty. 
kitty [not looking, sobbing]. I don’t like this life. 

[joe starts the carousel which makes a strange, sor¬ 
rowful, tinkling music. The music begins slowly, be¬ 
comes swift, gradually slows down, and ends, joe 
himself is interested in the toy, watches and listens 
to it carefully.] 

tom [eagerly]. Kitty. Joe got up from his chair at 
Nick's just to get you a toy and come here. This one 
makes music. We rode all over town in a cab to get 
it. Listen. 

[kitty sits up slowly, listening, white tom watches her. 
Everything happens slowly and somberly, kitty no¬ 
tices the photograph of herself when she was a little 
girl. Lifts it, and looks at it again!) 
tom [looking]. Who’s that little girl, Kitty? 
kitty. That’s me. When I was seven. 
tom [looking, smiling]. Gee, you’re pretty, Kitty. 

[joe reaches up for the photograph, which tom hands 


442 William Saroyan 

to him. tom returns to kitty whom he finds as 
pretty now as she was at seven, joe studies the pho¬ 
tograph. kitty looks up at tom. There is no doubt 
that they really low one another, joe looks up at 
them.] 

kitty. Tom? 

TOM [eagerly]. Yeah, Kitty. 

KTITY. Tom, when you were a little boy what did you 
want to be? 

tom [o little bewildered, but eager to please her 1. 
What, Kitty? J 

kitty. Do you remember when you were a little boy? 

tom [thoughtfully]. Yeah, I remember sometimes, 
Kitty. 

kitty. What did you want to be? 

tom [ioo&s at joe. joe holds tom's eyes a moment. 
Then tom is able to speak]. Sometimes I wanted to 
be a locomotive engineer. Sometimes I wanted to be 
a policeman. 

kitty. I wanted to be a great actress. [SAe looks up 
into tom’s face.] Tom, didn't you ever want to be 
a doctor? 

tom [looks at joe. joe holds tom’s eyes again, encour - 
aging tom by kis serious expression to go on talk¬ 
ing]. Yeah, now I remember. Sure, Kitty. I wanted 
to be a doctor—once. 

kitty [smiling sadly]. I’m so glad. Because I wanted to 
be an actress and have a young doctor come to the 
theater and see me and fall in love with me and send 
me flowers, 

[joe pantomimes to tom, demanding that he go on 
talking.] 

tom. I would do that, Kitty. 

kitty. I wouldn’t know who it was, and then one day 
I’d see him in the street and fall in love with him. I 
wouldn't know he was the one who was in love with 


The Time of Your Life 44S 
me. I'd think about him all the time. I’d dream 
about him. I’d dream o£ being near him the rest of 
my life. I’d dream of having children that looked 
like him. I wouldn't be an actress all the time. Only 
until I found him and fell in love with him. After 
that we’d take a train and go to beautiful cities and 
see the wonderful people everywhere and give 
money to the poor and whenever people were sick 
he’d go to them and make them well again. 

[tom looks at joe, bewildered, confused, and full of 
sorrow, kitty is deep in memory, almost in a trance ] 
joe [gently]. Talk to her, Tom. Be the wonderful 
young doctor she dreamed about and never found. 
Go ahead. Correct the errors of the world. 

TOM. Joe. [Pathetically.] I don’t know what to say. 
[There is rowdy singing in the hall. A loud young 
voice sings; " Sailing, sailing, over the bounding 
main."] 

voice. Kitty. Oh, Kittyl [kitty stirs, shocked, coming 
out of the trance .] Where the hell are you? Oh, 
Kitty. 

[tom jumps up, furiously.] 

woman’s voice [in the hall]. Who are you looking for. 
Sailor Boy? 

voice. The most beautiful lay in the world. 
woman’s voice. Don’t go any further. 
voice [with impersonal contempt ]. You? No. Not you. 
Kitty. You stink. 

woman's voice [rasping, angry]. Don’t you dare to 
to me that way. You pickpocket. 
voice [rtiH impersonal, but louder]. Oh, I see. Want 
to get tough, hey? Close the door. Go hide. 
woman’s voice. You pickpocket. All of you. [The door 
slams.] 

voice [roaring with laughter which is very sad]. Oh— 
Kitty. Room 21. Where the hell is that room? 


I 


444 William Saroyan 
tom [to joe]. Joe, I’ll lull him. 
kitty [fully herself again, terribly frightened]. Who is 
it? 

[She looks long and steadily at tom and joe. tom is 
standing, excited and angry, joe is completely at 
ease, his expression full of pity, kitty buries her 
face in the bed.] 

joe [gently]. Tom. Just take him away. 
voice. Here it is. Number 21. Three naturals. Heaven. 
My blue heaven. The west, a nest, and you. Just 
Molly and me, [Tragically.] Ah, to hell with every¬ 
thing. 

[A young sailor, a good-looking boy of no more than 
twenty or so, who is only drunk and lonely, comes 
to the bed, tinging sadly.] 

sailor. Hi-ya, Kitty. [Pause.] Oh. Visitors. Sorry. A 
thousand apologies. [To kitty.] I’ll come back later. 
tom [taking him by the shoulders, furiously]. If you 
do. I'll kill you. 

[joe holds tom. tom pushes the frightened boy away.] 
joe [somberly]. Tom. You stay here with Kitty. I’m 
going down to Union Square to hire an automobile. 
I’ll be back in a few minutes. We’ll ride out to the 
ocean and watch the sun go down. Then well ride 
down the Great Highway to Half Moon Bay. We'll 
have supper down there, and you and Kitty can 
dance. 

tom [stupefied, unable to express his amazement and 
gratitude]. Joe, you mean, you’re going to go on an 
errand for met You mean you’re not going to send 
me? . . 

joe. That’s right [He gestures toward kitty, indicat¬ 
ing that tom shall talk to her, protect the innocence 
in her which is in so much danger when tom isn't 
near, which tom loves so deeply, joe leaves, tom 
studies kitty, his face becoming childlike and som- 


The Time of Your Life 445 
her. He sets the carousel into motion, listens, watch¬ 
ing kitty, who lifts herself slowly, looking only at 
tom. tom lifts the turning carousel and moves it 
slowly toward kitty, as though the toy were his 
heart. The piano music comes up loudly and the 
lights go down, while harry is heard dancing 
swiftly.] 

BLACKOUT 


Act four 

A little later. 

wesley, the colored boy, is at the piano. 
harry is on the little stage, dancing. 
nick is behind the bar. 

The arab is in his place. 

kit carson is asleep on his folded arms. 

The drunkard comes in. Goes to the telephone for 
the nickel that might be in the return-chute, nick 
comes to take him out. He gestures for nick to hold 
on a minute. Then produces a half dollar, nick goes 
behind the bar to serve the drunkard whiskey. 

the drunkard. To the old, God bless them. [Another.] 
To the new, God love them. [Another.] To—children 
and small animals, like little dogs that don’t bite. 
[Another. Loudly.] To reforestation. [Searches for 
money. Finds some.] To-President Taft [He goes 
out. The telephone rings.] 

JUT CARSON [jumping up, fighting]. Come on, all of you, 
if you're looking for trouble. I never asked for quar¬ 
ter and I always gave it 


446 William Sarvyan 

nick [reproachfully]. Hey, Kit Carson. 

Dudley [cm the phone]. Hello. Who? Nick? Yes. He's 
here. [To nick.] It's for you. I think it's important. 
nick [going to the phone]. Important 1 What's impor¬ 
tant? 

Dudley. He sounded like a big-shot. 

nick. Big whatf [To wesley and harry.] Hey, you. 

Quiet. I want to hear this important stuff. 

[wesley stops playing the piano, harry stops dancing. 

kit carson comes dose to nick.] 
kit carson. If there’s anything I can do, name it. I'll 
do it for you. I’m fifty-eight years old; been through 
three wars; married four times; the father of count¬ 
less children whose names I don't even know. I’ve 
got no money. I live from hand to mouth. But if 
there’s anything I can do, name it. I’ll do it. 
nick [patiently]. Listen, Pop. For a moment, please sit 
down and go back to sleep —for me. 
kit carson. I can do that, too. [He sits down, folds his 
arms, and puts his head into them. But not for long. 
As nick begins to talk , he listens carefully, gets to 
his feet, and then begins to express in pantomime 
the moods of each of nick’s remarks .] 
nick [on phone]. Yeah? [Pause.] Who? Oh, 1 see. 
[Listens.] Why don’t you leave them alone? [Listens.] 
The church-people? Well, to hell with the church- 
people. I'm a Catholic myself. [Listens.] All right. 
I’ll send them away. I'll tell them to lay low for a 
couple of days. Yeah, I know how it is. [nick’s 
daughter anna comes in shyly, looking at her father, 
and stands unnoticed by the piano.] What? [Very 
angry.] Listen. I don’t like that Blick. He was here 
this morning, and I told him not to come back. I’ll 
keep the girls out of here. You keep Blick out of 
here. [Listens.] I know his brother-in-law is im¬ 
portant, but I don’t want him to come down here. 


The Time of Your Life 447 
He looks for trouble everywhere, and he always 
finds it. I don’t break any laws. I’ve got a dive in the 
lousiest part of town. Five years nobody's been 
robbed, murdered or gypped. I leave people alone. 
Your swanky joints uptown make trouble for you 
every night, [nick gestures to wesley— keeps listen¬ 
ing on the phone—puts his hand over the mouth¬ 
piece. To wesley and harry.} Start playing again. 
My ears have got a headache. Go into your dance, 
son. [wesley begins to play again, harry begins to 
dance, nick into mouthpiece.] Yeah. I’ll keep them 
out Just see that Blick doesn't come around and 
start something. [Pause.] O.K. [He hangs up.] 

Krr carson. Trouble coming? 
nick. That lousy Vice Squad again. It’s that gorilla 
Blick. 

Krr carson. Anybody at all. You can count on me. 

What kind of a gorilla is this gorilla Blick? 
nick. Very dignified. Toenails on his fingers. 
anna [to kit carson, with great, warm, beautiful 
pride, pointing at nick]. Thai’s my father. 

Krr carson [leaping with amazement at the beautiful 
voice, the wondrous face, the magnificent event]. 
Well, bless your heart, child. Bless your lovely heart. 
I had a little daughter point me out in a crowd once. 
nick [surpmed]. Anna. What the hell are you doing 
here? Get back home where you belong and help 
Grandma cook me some supper, [anna smiles at her 
father, understanding him, knowing that his words 
are words of love. She turns and goes, looking at 
him all the way out, as much as to say that she 
would cook for him the rest of her life, nick stares 
at the swinging doors. Krr carson moves toward 
them, two or three steps, anna pushes open one of 
the doors and peeks in, to look at her father again. 
She waves to him. Turns and runs, nick is very sad. 


448 William Saroyan 

He doesn’t know what to do. He gets a glass and a 
bottle. Pours himself a drink. Swallows some. It 
isn’t enough, so he pours more and swallows the 
whole drink. To himself.] My beautiful, beautiful 
baby. Anna, she is you again. [He brings out a hand¬ 
kerchief, touches his eyes, and blows his nose, kit 
Carson moves close to nick, watching nick’s face. 
nick looks at him. Loudly, almost making kit jump.] 
You're broke, aren’t you? 
kit carson. Always. Always, 

nick. All right. Go into the kitchen and give Sam a 
hand. Eat some food and when you come back you 
can have a couple of beers. 

kit carson [studying nick}. Anything at all I know a 
good man when 1 see one. [He goes.] 

[elsie mandelspiegel comes into nick’s. She ts a beau¬ 
tiful, dark girl, with a sorrowful, wise, dreaming 
face, almost on the verge of tears, and full of pity. 
There is an aura of dream about her. She moves 
softly and gently, as if everything around her were 
unreal and pathetic. Dudley doesn’t notice her for 
a moment or two. When he does finally see her, he 
ts so amazed, he can barely move or speak. Her pres¬ 
ence has the effect of changing him completely. He 
gets up from his chair, as if in a trance , and walks 
toward her, smiling sadly.] 
klsie [looking at him]. Hello, Dudley. 

Dudley [broken-hearted], Elsie. 
elsie. I’m sorry. [Explaining.] So many people are sick. 
Last night a little boy died. I love you, but— [She 
gestures, trying to indicate how hopeless love is. 
They sit down.] 

Dudley [ staring at her, stunned and quieted ]. Elsie. 
You’ll never know how glad I am to see you. Just 
to see you. [Pathetically.] I was afraid I’d never see 


The Time of Tour Life 449 
you again. It was driving me crazy. I didn’t want to 
live. Honest. [He shakes his head mournfully; with 
dumb and beautiful affection, two streetwalkers 
come in, and pause near Dudley, at the bar.] 1 know. 
You told me before, but I can’t help it, Elsie, I love 
you. 

elsie [quietly, somberly, gently, with great compas¬ 
sion]. I know you love me, and I love you, but don’t 
you see love is impossible in this world? 

Dudley. Maybe it isn’t, Elsie. 

elsie. Love is for birds. They have wings to fly away 
on when it’s time for flying. For tigers in the jungle 
because they don't know their end. We know our 
end. Every night I watch over poor, dying men. I 
hear them breathing, crying, talking in their sleep. 
Crying for air and water and love, for mother and 
field and sunlight. We can never know love or great- * 
ness. We should know both. 

Dudley [deeply moved by her words]. Elsie, I love you. 

elsie. You want to live. / want to live, too, but where? 
Where can we escape our poor world? 

Dudley. Elsie, we’ll find a place. 

elsie [nnifmg at him]. All right. We'll try again. Well 
go together to a room in a cheap hotel, and dream 
that the world is beautiful, and that living is full o£ 
love and greatness. But in the morning, can we for¬ 
get debts, and duties, and the cost of ridiculous 
things? 

Dudley [with blind faith]. Sure, we can, Elsie. 

elsie. All right, Dudley. Of course. Come on. The time 
for the new pathetic war has come. Let’s hurry, be¬ 
fore they dress you, stand you in line, hand you a 
gun, and have you kill and be killed, [elsie looks at 
him gently, and takes his hand. Dudley embraces 
her shyly, as if he might hurt her. They go, as if 



450 William Saroyan 

they were a couple of young animals. There is a 
moment of silence. One of ike streetwalkers bursts 
out laughing .] 

killer. Nick, what the hell kind of a joint are you 
running? 

nick. Well, it’s not out o£ the world. It’s on a street in 
a city, and people come and go. They bring what¬ 
ever they’ve got with them and they say what they 
must say. 

The other streetwalker. It's floozies like her that 
raise hell with our racket. 

nick [ remembering ]. Oh, yeah. Finnegan telephoned. 

killer. That mouse in elephant’s body? 

the other streetwalker. What the hell does he want? 

nick. Spend your time at the movies for the next cou¬ 
ple o£ days. 

killer. They're all lousy. [Mocking.] All about love. 

nick. Lousy or not lousy, for a couple of days the fiat- 
foots are going to be romancing you, so stay out o£ 
here, and lay low. 

killer. I always was a pushover for a man in uniform, 
with a badge, a club and a gun. 

[krupp comes into the place. The girls put down their 
drinks.] 

nick. O.K., get going. 

[The girls begin to leave and meet krupp.] 

THE OTHER STREETWALKER. We WaS just going. 

killer. We was formerly models at Magnin's. [They 
go.] 

krupp [at the bar]. The strike isn’t enough, so they’ve 
got to put us on the tails of the girls, too. I don’t 
know. I wish to God I was back in the Sunset hold¬ 
ing the hands of kids going home from school, where 
I belong. I don’t like trouble. Give me a beer, [nick 
gives him a beer. He drinks some.] Right now, Mc¬ 
Carthy, my best friend, is with sixty strikers who 


The Time of four Life 451 
want to stop the finks who are going to try to un¬ 
load the Mary Luckenbach tonight. Why the hell 
McCarthy ever became a longshoreman instead of 
a professor of some kind is something I’ll never 
know. 

nick. Cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, long¬ 
shoremen and finks. 

krupp. They’re all guys who are trying to be happy; 
trying to make a living; support a family; bring up 
children; enjoy sleep. Go to a movie; take a drive 
on Sunday. They’re all good guys, so out of nowhere 
comes trouble. All they want is a chance to get out 
of debt and relax in front of a radio while Amos and 
Andy go through their act What the hell do they 
always want to make trouble for? I been thinking 
everything over, Nick, and you know what I think? 

nick. No. What? 

krupp. I think we’re all crazy. It came to me while I 
was on my way to Pier 27. All of a sudden it hit me 
like a ton of bricks. A thing like that never hap¬ 
pened to me before. Here we are in this wonderful 
world, full of all the wonderful things—here we are 
—all of us, and look at us. Just look at us. We’re 
crazy. We’re nuts. We’ve got everything, but we al¬ 
ways feel lousy and dissatisfied just the same. 

nick. Of course we’re crazy. Even so, we’ve got to go on 
living together. [He waves at the people in his 
joint.] 

krupp. There’s no hope. I don’t suppose it's right for 
an officer of the law to feel the way I feel, but, by 
God, right or not right, that’s how I feel. Why are 
we all so lousy? This is a good world. It’s wonderful 
to get up in the morning and go out for a little walk 
and smell the trees and see the streets and the kids 
going to school and the clouds in the sky. It's won¬ 
derful just to be able to move around and whistle a 


452 William Saroyan 

song if you feel like it, or maybe try to sing one. 
This is a nice world. So why do they make all the 
trouble? 

nick. I don’t know. Why? 

krupp. We’re crazy, that’s why. We're no good any 
more. All the corruption everywhere. The poor kids 
selling themselves. A couple of years ago they were 
in grammar school. Everybody trying to get a lot of 
money in a hurry. Everybody betting the horses. No¬ 
body going quietly for a little walk to the ocean. 
Nobody taking things easy and not wanting to make 
some kind of a killing. Nick, I’m going to quit being 
a cop. Let somebody else keep law and order. The 
stuff I hear about at headquarters. I'm thirty-seven 
years old, and I still can't get used to it. The only 
trouble is, the wife’ll raise hell. 

nick. Ah, the wife. 

krupp. She's a wonderful woman, Nick. We've got two 
of the swellest boys in the world. Twelve and seven 
years old. 

[The arab gets up and moves closer to listen.] 

nick. I didn’t know that 

krupp. Sure. But what'll I do? I’ve wanted to quit for 
seven years. I wanted to quit the day they began 
putting me through the school. I didn’t quit 
What’ll I do if I quit? Where's money going to be 
coming in from? 

nick. That’s one of the reasons we’re all crazy. We 
don't know where it’s going to be coming in from, 
except from wherever it happens to be coming in 
from at the time, which we don’t usually like. 

krupp. Every once in a while I catch myself being 
mean, hating people just because they're down and 
out, broke and hungry, sick or drunk. And then 
when I'm with the stuffed shirts at headquarters, all 
of a sudden I’m nice to them, trying to make an im- 


The Time of Tour Life 45S 
pression. On who? People I don’t like. And I feel 
disgusted. [With finality.] I’m going to quit. That’s 
all. Quit. Out. I'm going to give them back the uni¬ 
form and the gadgets that go with it. I don’t want 
any part of it. This is a good world! What do they 
want to make all the trouble for all the time? 

Arab [quietly a gently, with great understanding ]. No 
foundation. All the way down the line. 
krupp. What? 

arab. No foundation. No foundation. 
krupp. I’ll say there's no foundation. 
arab. All the way down the line. 

KRUPP [to NICK]. Is that all he ever says? 
nick. That's all he’s been saying this week. 
krupp. What is he, anyway? 
nick. He’s an Arab, or something like that 
krupp. No, I mean what’s he do for a living? 
nick [to arab]. What do you do for a living, brother? 
arab. Work. Work all my life. All my life, work. From 
small boy to old man, work. In old country, work. In 
new country, work. In New York. Pittsburgh. De¬ 
troit. Chicago. Imperial Valley. San Francisco. 
Work. No beg. Work. For what? Nothing. Three 
boys in old country. Twenty years, not see. Lost. 
Dead. Who knows? What. What-not. No foundation. 
All the way down the line. 
krupp. What’d he say last week? 
nick. Didn’t say anything. Played the harmonica. 

ARAB. Old country song, I play. [He brings a harmon¬ 
ica from his back pocket .] 
krupp. Seems like a nice guy. 
nick. Nicest guy in the world. 
krupp [bitterly]. But crazy. Just like all the rest of us. 
Stark raving mad. 

[wesley and harry long ago stopped playing and 
dancing. They sat at a table together and talked for 


454 William Saroyan 

a while; then began playing casino or rummy. When 
the arab begins his solo on the harmonica, they stop 
their game to 
wesley. You hear that? 
harry. That’s something. 
wesley. That’s crying. That’s crying. 
harry. I want to make people laugh. 
wesley. That’s deep, deep crying. That’s crying a long 
time ago. That’s crying a thousand years ago. Some 
place five thousand miles away. 
harry. Do you think you can play to that? 
wesley. I want to sing to that, but I can't sing. 
harry. You try and play to that. I'll try to dance. 
[wesley goes to the piano, and after closer listening, 
he begins to accompany the harmonica solo, harry 
goes to the little stage and after a few efforts begins 
to dance to the song. This keeps up quietly for some 
time, krupp and nick have been silent, and deeply 
moved.] 

krupp [softly]. Well, anyhow, Nick. 
nick. Hmmmmmmm? 
krupp. What I said. Forget it. 
nick. Sure. 

krupp. It gets me down once in a while. 
nick. No harm in talking. 

krupp [the policeman again, loudly ]. Keep the girls 
out of here. 

nick [loud and friendly]. Take it easy. 

[The music and dancing are now at their height .] 


CURTAIN 


Act five 


That evening. Fog-horns are heard throughout the 
scene. A man in evening clothes and a top hat, and his 
WOMAN, also in evening clothes, are entering. 

willie iy still at the marble game, nick is behind the 
bar. joe is at his table, looking at the book of maps of 
the countries of Europe. The box containing the re¬ 
volver and the box containing the cartridges are on 
the table, beside his glass. He is at peace, his hat tilted 
back on his head, a calm expression on his face, tom is 
leaning against the bar, dreaming of love and kitty. 
The arab is gone, wesley and harry are gone, kit 
carson is watching the boy at the marble game. 

lady. Oh, come on, please. 

[The gentleman follows miserably. The society man 
and wife take a table, nick gives them a menu. Out¬ 
side, in the street, the Salvation Army people are 
playing a song. Big drum, tambourines, comet and 
singing. They are singing "The Blood of the Lamb:’ 
The music and words come into the place faintly 
and comically. This is followed by an old sinner 
testifying. It is the drunkard. His words are not in¬ 
telligible, but his message is unmistakable. He is 
saved. He wants to sin no more. And so on.] 
drunkard [testifying, unmistakably drunk]. Brothers 
and sisters. I was a sinner. I chewed tobacco and 
chased women. Oh, I sinned, brothers and sisters. 
And then I was saved. Saved by the Salvation Amy, 
God forgive me. 

JOE. Let's see now. Here's a city. Pribor. Czechoslo- 


456 William Saroyan 

vakia. Little, lovely, lonely Czechoslovakia. I won¬ 
der what kind of a place Pribor was? [Calling.] Pxi- 
bor! Pribor! 

[tom leaps.] 

lady. What’s the matter with him? 
man [crowing his legs, as if he ought to go to the men’s 
room]. Drunk. 
tom. Who you calling, Joe? 
joe. Pribor. 
tom. Who's Pribor? 

joe. He’s a Czech. And a Slav. A Czechoslovakian. 
lady. How interesting. 
man [uncrosses legs]. He’s drunk. 
joe. Tom, Pribor's a dty in Czechoslovakia. 
tom. Oh. [Pause.] You sure were nice to her, Joe. 
joe, Kitty Duval? She’s one of the finest people in the 
world, 

tom. It sure was nice of you to hire an automobile and 
take us for a drive along the ocean front and down 
to Half Moon Bay. 

joe. Those three hours were the most delightful, the 
most somber, and the most beautiful I have ever 
known. 

tom. Why, Joe? 

joe. Why? I’m a student [Lifting his voice.] Tom. 
[Quietly.] I’m a student. I study all things. AIL AIL 
And when my study reveals something of beauty in 
a place or in a person where by all rights only ugli¬ 
ness or death should be revealed, then I know how 
full of goodness this life is. And that’s a good thing 
to know. That’s a truth I shall always seek to verify. 
lady. Are you sure he’s drunk? 
man [crossing his legs]. He’s either drunk, or just natu¬ 
rally crazy. 
tom. Joe? 


The Time of Your Life 457 


joe. Yeah. 

tom. You won’t get sore or anything? 

joe [ impatiently ]. What is it, Tom? 

tom. Joe, where do you get all that money? You paid 
for the automobile. You paid for supper and the two 
bottles of champagne at the Half Moon Bay Res¬ 
taurant. You moved Kitty out of the New York 
Hotel around the corner to the St. Francis Hotel on 
Powell Street. I saw you pay her rent. I saw you 
give her money for new clothes. Where do you get 
all that money, Joe? Three years now and I've never 
asked. 

joe [looking at tom sorrowfully, a little irritated, not 
so much with tom as with the world and himself, his 
own superiority. He speaks clearly f slowly and sol¬ 
emnly]. Now don’t be a fool, Tom. Listen carefully. 
If anybody’s got any money—to hoard or to throw 
away—you can be sure he stole it from other people. 
Not from rich people who can spare it, but from 
poor people who can’t. From their lives and from 
their dreams. I’m no exception. I earned the money 
I throw away. I stole it like everybody else does. I 
hurt people to get it Loafing around this way, I 
still earn money. The money itself earns more. I still 
hurt people. I don’t know who they are, or where 
they are. If I did, I’d feel worse than I do. I’ve got a 
Christian conscience in a world that’s got no con¬ 
science at all. The world’s trying to get some sort of 
a social conscience, but it’s having a devil of a time 
trying to do that. I’ve got money. I’ll always have 
money, as long as this world stays the way it is. I 
don’t work. I don’t make anything. [He I 

drink. I worked when I was a kid. I worked hard. 
1 mean hard, Tom. People are supposed to enjoy 
living. I got tired. [He lifts the gun and looks at it 


458 William Saroyan 

while he talks.] I decided to get even on the world. 
Well, you can’t enjoy living unless you work. Un¬ 
less you do something. I don't do anything. I don’t 
want to do anything any more. There isn’t anything 
I can do that won’t make me feel embarrassed. Be¬ 
cause I can’t do simple, good things. I haven’t the 
patience. And I’m too smart. Money is the guiltiest 
thing in the world. It stinks. Now, don’t ever bother 
me about it again. 

tom. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad, Joe. 
joe [slowly]. Here. Take this gun out in the street an d 
give it to some worthy hold-up t mn , 
lady. What’s he saying? 

MAN [uncrosses legs]. You wanted to visit a honky- 
tonk. Well, this is a honky-tonk. [To the world.] 
Married twenty-eight years and she’s still looking 
for adventure. 

tom. How should I know who’s a hold-up man? 
joe. Take it away. Give it to somebody. 
tom [bewildered]. Do I have to give it to somebody? 
joe. Of course. 

tom. Can’t I take it back and get some of our money? 
joe. Don’t talk like a business man. Look around and 
find somebody who appears to be in need of a gun 
and give it to him. It’s a good gun, isn't it? 

TOM. The man said it was, but how can I tell who 
needs a gun? 

joe. Tom, you’ve seen good people who needed guns, 
haven’t you? 

tom. I don’t remember. Joe, I might give it to the 
wrong kind of guy. He might do something crazy. 
joe. All right. I’ll find somebody myself, [tom rises.] 
Here’s some money. Go get me this week’s Life, 
Liberty, Time, and six or seven packages of chewing 
gum. 


The Time of Tour Life 459 
TOM [swiftly, in order to remember each item]. Life, 
Liberty, Time and six or seven packages of chewing 
gum? 

joe. That’s right. 

tom. All that chewing gum? What kind? 

joe. Any kind. Mix 'em up. All kinds. 

tom. Licorice, too? 

joe. Licorice, by all means. 

tom. Juicy Fruit? 

joe. Juicy Fruit. 

tom. Tutti-frutti? 

joe. Is there such a gum? 

tom. I think so. 

joe. All right. Tutti-frutti, too. Get all the kinds. Get 
as many kinds as they're selling. 
tom. Life, Liberty, Time, and all the different kinds of 
gum. [He begins to go.] 

joe [calling after him loudly]. Get some jelly beans 
too. All die different colors. 
tom. All right, Joe. 

joe. And the longest panatela cigar you can find. Six 
of them. 

tom. Panatela. I got it. 
joe. Give a news-kid a dollar. 
tom. O.K., Joe. 

joe. Give some old man a dollar. 
tom. O.K., Joe. 

joe. Give them Salvation Army people in the street a 
couple of dollars and ask them to sing that song that 
goes— [He sings loudly .] 

Let the lower lights be burning, send a gleam across 
the wave. 


tom [swiftly]. 


460 William Saroyan 

Let the lower lights be burning, send a gleam across 
the wave. 

joe. That’s it [He goes on with the song, very loudly 
and religiously.] 

Some poor, dying, struggling seaman, you may rescue, 
you may save. 

[Halts.] 

tom. O.K., Joe. I got it Life, Liberty, Time, all the 
kinds of gum they’re selling, jelly beans, six panatela 
cigars, a dollar for a news-kid, a dollar for an old 
man, two dollars for the Salvation Army. [Going.] 

Let the lower lights be burning, send a gleam across 
the wave. 

joe. That’s it 

lady. He’s absolutely insane. 

MAN [wearily crossing legs]. You asked me to take you 
to a honky-tonk, instead of to the Mark Hopkins. 
You’re here in a honky-tonk. I can't help it if he’s 
crazy. Do you want to go back to where people 
aren’t crazy? 
lady. No, not just yet 

man. Well, all right then. Don’t be telling me every 
minute that he’s crazy. 
lady. You needn’t be huffy about it 
[man refuses to answer, uncrosses legs. When JOE be¬ 
gan to sing, kit Carson turned away from the mar¬ 
ble game and listened. While the man and woman 
are arguing he comes over to joe’s table.] 
ktt carson. Presbyterian? 
joe. I attended a Presbyterian Sunday School. 
kit carson. Fond of singing? 


The Time of Your Life 461 
joe. On occasion. Have a drink? 
kit carson. Thanks. 

joe. Get a glass and sit down, [itrr carson gets a glass 
from nick, returns to the table, sits down, joe pours 
him a drink, they touch glasses just as the Salvation 
Army people begin to fulfil the request. They sip 
some champagne, and at the proper moment begin 
to sing the song together, sipping champagne, rais¬ 
ing hell with the tune, swinging it, and so on. The 
society lady joins them, and is stopped by her hus¬ 
band.] Always was fond of that song. Used to sing 
it at the top of my voice. Never saved a seaman in 
my life. 

kit carson [flirting with the society lady who loves 
it]. I saved a seaman once. Well, he wasn’t exactly 
a seaman. He was a darky named Wellington. 
Heavy-set sort of a fellow. Nice personality, but no 
friends to speak of. Not until I came along, at any 
rate. In New Orleans. In the summer of the year 
1899. No. Ninety-eight. I was a lot younger of course, 
and had no mustache, but was regarded by many 
people as a man of means. 
joe. Know anything about guns? 
kit carson [flirting]. All there is to know. Didn’t fight 
the Ojibways for nothing. Up (there in the Lake 
Takalooca country, in Michigan. [Remembering.] 
Along about in 1881 or two. Fought ’em right up to 
the shore of the lake. Made ’em swim for Canada. 
One fellow in particular, an Indian named Harry 
Daisy. 

joe [opening the box containing the revolver]. What 
sort of a gun would you say this is? Any good? 
kit carson [at sight of gun, leaping]. Yep. That looks 
like a pretty nice hunk of shooting iron. That’s a 
six-shooter. Shot a man with a six-shooter once. Got 
him through the palm of his right hand. Lifted his 


162 William Saroyan 

arm. to wave to a friend. Thought It was a bird. 
Fellow named, I believe, Carroway. Larrimore Car- 
roway. 

joe. Know how to work one of these things? [He offers 
kit carson the revolver , which is old and enormous.] 
kit carson [laughing at the absurd question]. Know 
how to work it? Hand me that little gun, son, and 
I’ll show you all about it. [joe hands xrr the re¬ 
volver. Importantly .] Let's see now. This is probably 
a new kind of six-shooter. After my time. Haven’t 
nicked an Indian in years. I believe this here place 
is supposed to move out. [He fools around and gets 
the barrel out for loading.] That’s it There it is. 
joe. Look all right? 

Err carson. It’s a good gun. You've got a good gun 
there, son. I’ll explain it to you. You see these holes? 
Well, that’s where you put the cartridges. 
joe [taking some cartridges out of the box]. Here. 
Show me how it’s done. 

Err carson [a little impatiently]. Well, son, you take 
’em one by one and put ’em in the holes, like this. 
There’s one. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Then you 
get the barrel back in place. Then cock it Then all 
you got to do is aim and fire. [He points the gun at 
the lady and gentleman who scream and stand up, 
scaring kit carson into paralysis. The gun is loaded, 
but uncocked .] 
joe. It’s all set? 
kit carson. Ready to kill. 
joe. Let me hold it. 

[kit hands joe the gun. The lady and gentleman 
watch, in terror.] 

Err carson. Careful, now, son. Don’t cock it. Many a 
man’s lost an eye fooling with a loaded gun. Fellow 
I used to know named Danny Donovan lost a nose. 


The Time of Your Life 46$ 
Ruined his whole life. Hold it firm. Squeeze the 
trigger. Don’t snap it Spoils your aim. 
joe. Thanks. Let's see if 1 can unload it [He begins 
to unload it.] 

kit carson. Of course you can. 

[joe unloads the revolver, looks at it very closely, puts 
the cartridges back into the box.] 

JOE [looking at gun]. I’m mighty grateful to you. Al¬ 
ways wanted to see one of those things dose up. Is 
it really a good one? 
kit carson. It’s a beaut son. 

joe [aims the empty gun at a bottle on the bar]. Bangl 
Willie [at the marble game, as the machine groans]. 
Oh, boy! [Loudly, triumphantly.] There you are, 
Nick. Thought I cou2dn’t do it hey? Now, watch. 
[The machine begins to make a special kind of 
noise. Lights go on and off. Some red, some green. A 
bell rings loudly six times.] One. Two. Three. Four. 
Five. Six. [An American flag jumps up. willie comes 
to attention. Salutes .] Oh, boy, what a beautiful 
country. [A loud music-box version of the song 
"America." joe, kit, and the lady get to their feet. 
Singing. “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of lib¬ 
erty, of thee I sing" Everything quiets down. The 
flag goes back into the machine, willie is thrilled, 
amazed, delighted, everybody has watched the per¬ 
formance of the defeated machine from wherever 
he happened to be when the performance began. 
willie, looking around at everybody, as if they had 
all been on the side of the machine.] O.K. How’s 
that? I knew I could do it [To nick.] Six nickels. 
[nick hands him six nickels, willie goes over to job 
and kit.] Took me a little while, but I finally did it. 
It’s scientific, really. With a little skill a man can 
make a modest living beating the marble games. Not 


464 William Saroyan 

that that’s what I want to do. I just don’t like the 
idea of anything getting the best of me. A machine 
or anything else. Myself, I’m the kind of a guy who 
makes up his mind to do something, and then goes 
to work and does it. There’s no other way a man can 
be a success at anything. [Indicating the letter “F“ 
on his sweater.] See that letter? That don’t stand for 
some little-bitty high school somewhere. That stands 
for me. Faroughli. Willie Faroughli. I'm an Assy¬ 
rian. We've got a civilization six or seven centuries 
old, I think. Somewhere along in there. Ever hear 
of Osman? Harold Osman? He’s an Assyrian, too. 
He’s got an orchestra down in Fresno. [He goes to 
the lady and gentleman.] I’ve never seen you be¬ 
fore in my life, but I can tell from the clothes you 
wear and the company you keep [graciously indicat¬ 
ing the lady] that you’re a man who looks every 
problem straight in the eye, and then goes to work 
and solves it. I’m that way myself. Well. [He smiles 
beautifully, takes the gentleman's hand furiously .] 
It’s been wonderful talking to a nicer type of people 
for a change. Well. I’ll be seeing you. So long. [He 
turns, takes two steps, returns to the table. Very po¬ 
litely and seriously.] Good-by, lady. You’ve got a 
good man there. Take good care of him. [willie 
goes, saluting joe and the world.] 

Krr carson [to joe]. By God, for a while there I didn’t 
think that young Assyrian was going to do it. That 
fellow’s got something. 

[tom comes back with the magazines and other stuff.] 
joe. Get it all? 

tom. Yeah. I had a little trouble finding the jelly 
beans. 

joe. Let’s take a look at them. 
tom. These are the jelly beans. 

[joe puts his hand into the cellophane bag and takes 


The Time of Your Life 465 
out a kandful of the jelly beans, looks at them, 
smiles, and tosses a couple into his mouth.] 
joe. Same as ever. Have some. [He offers the bag to 
ktt.] 

kit cakson [flirting]. Thanks! I remember the first time 
I ever ate jelly beans. I was six, or at the most seven. 
Must have been in [slowly] eighteen—seventy-seven. 
Seven or eight. Baltimore. 
joe. Have some, Tom. 

[tom takes some.] 
tom. Thanks, Joe. 

joe. Let’s have some of that chewing gum. [He dumps 
all the packages of gum out of the bag onto the 
table.] 

kit carson [girting]. Me and a boy named Clark. 

Quinton Clark. Became a Senator. 
joe. Yeah. Tutti-frutti, all right. [He opens a package 
and folds all five pieces into his mouth.] Always 
wanted to see how many I could chew at one time. 
Tell you what, Tom. I'll bet I can chew more at 
one time than you cam 

tom [delighted]. All right. [They both begin to fold 
gum into their mouths .] 

kit carson. I'll referee. Now, one at a time. How many 
you got? 

JOE. Six. 

kit carson. AH right. Let Tom catch up with you. 
joe [while tom’s catching up]. Did you give a dollar 
to a news-kid? 
tom. Yeah, sure. 
joe. What’d he say? 
tom. Thanks. 

joe. What sort of a kid was he? 
tom. Little, dark kid. I guess he's Italian. 
joe. Did he seem pleased? 
tom. Yeah. 



466 William Saroyan 

joe. That's good. Did you give a dollar to an old man? 

tom. Yeah. 

joe. Was he pleased? 

tom. Yeah. 

joe. Good. How many you got In your mouth? 
tom. Six. 

JOE. All right, 1 got six, too. [Folds one more in his 
mouth, tom folds one too.] 

Err carson. Seven. Seven each. [They each fold one 
more into their mouths, very solemnly, chewing 
them into the main hunk of gum.] Eight. Nine. 
Ten. 

joe [delighted]. Always wanted to do this. [He picks 
up one of the magazines.] Let’s see what’s going on 
in the world. [He turns the pages and keeps folding 
gum into his mouth and chewing .] 
xrr carson. Eleven. Twelve, [kit continues to count 
while joe and tom continue the contest. In spite of 
what they are doing, each is very serious.] 
tom. Joe, what’d you want to move Kitty into the St. 
Francis Hotel for? 

joe. She’s a better woman than any of them tramp so¬ 
ciety dames that hang around that lobby. 
tom. Yeah, but do you think she’ll feel at home up 
there? 

joe. Maybe not at first, but after a couple of days she’ll 
be all right. A nice big room. A bed for sleeping in. 
Good clothes. Good food. She'll be all right, Tom. 
tom. I hope so. Don't you think she'll get lonely up 
there with nobody to talk to? 
joe [looking at tom sharply, almost with admiration, 
pleased but severe ]. There’s nobody anywhere for 
her to talk to—except you. 
tom [amazed and delighted]. Me, Joe? 
joe [while tom and Krr carson listen carefully, kit 
with great appreciation ]. Yes, you. By the grace of 


The Time of Your Life 467 
God, you’re the other half of that girl. Not the an¬ 
gry woman that swaggers into this waterfront dive 
and shouts because the world has kicked her around. 
Anybody can have her. You belong to the little kid 
in Ohio who once dreamed of living. Not with her 
carcass, for money, so she can have food and clothes, 
and pay rent. With all of her. I put her in that 
hotel, so she can have a chance to gather herself 
together again. She can’t do that in the New York 
Hotel. You saw what happens there. There's nobody 
anywhere for her to talk to, except you. They all 
make her talk like a whore. After a while, she’ll be¬ 
lieve them. Then she won’t be able to remember. 
She’ll get lonely. Sure. People can get lonely for 
misery, even. I want her to go on being lonely for 
you, so she can come together again the way she was 
meant to be from the beginning. Loneliness is good 
for people. Right now it’s the only thing for Kitty. 
Any more licorice? 

tom [dazed]. What? Licorice? [Looking around bus¬ 
ily.] I guess we’ve chewed all the licorice in. We 
still got Glove, Peppermint, Doublemint, Beechnut, 
Teaberry, and Juicy Fruit. 

joe. Licorice used to be my favorite. Don’t worry 
about her, Tom, she’ll be all right. You really want 
to marry her, don’t you? 

tom [nodding]. Honest to God, Joe. [Pathetically.] 
Only, I haven’t got any money. 

joe. Couldn’t you be a prize-fighter or something like 
that? 

tom. Naaaah. I couldn't hit a man if I wasn't sore at 
him. He’d have to do something that made me hate 
him. 

joe. You’ve got to figure out something to do that 
you won’t mind doing very much. 

tom. I wish I could, Joe. 


468 William Saroyan 

joe [thinking deeply, suddenly], Tom, would you be 
embarrassed driving a truck? 
tom [hit by a thunderbolt]. Joe, 1 never thought of 
that. I’d like that. Travel. Highways. Little towns. 
Coffee and hot cakes. Beautiful valleys and moun¬ 
tains and streams and trees and daybreak and sunset. 
joe. There is poetry in it, at that 
tom. Joe, that's just the kind of work I should do. Just 
sit there and travel, and look, and smile, and bust 
out laughing. Could Kitty go with me, sometimes? 
joe, I don't know. Get me the phone book. Can you 
drive a truck? 

tom. Joe, you know I can drive a truck, or any kind 
of thing with a motor and wheels, [tom takes JOE 
the phone book, joe turns the pages.] 
joe [looking]. Herel Here it is. Tuxedo 7900. Here’s 
a nickel. Get me that number. 

[tom goers to telephone , dials the number .] 

tom. Hello. 

joe. Ask for Mr. Keith. 

tom [mouth and language full of gum]. I’d like to talk 
to Mr. Keith. [Pause.] Mr. Keith. 
joe. Take that gum out of your mouth for a minute. 
[tom removes the gum.] 

tom. Mr. Keith. Yeah. That’s right. Hello, Mr. Keith? 
joe. Tell him to hold the line. 
tom. Hold the line, please. 

joe. Give me a hand, Tom. [tom helps joe to the tele¬ 
phone. At phone, wad of gum in fingers delicately.] 
Keith? Joe. Yeah. Fine. Forget It. [Pause.] Have you 
got a place for a good driver? [Pause.] I don’t think 
so. [To tom.] You haven’t got a driver’s license, have 
you? 

tom [worried]. No. But I can get one, Joe. 

joe [at phone]. No, but he can get one easy enough. 


The Time of Your Life 469 
To hell with the union. He’ll join later. All right, 
call him a Vice-President and say he drives for re¬ 
laxation. Sure. What do you mean? Tonight? I don’t 
know why not. San Diego? All right, let him start 
driving without a license. What the hell’s the dif¬ 
ference? Yeah. Sure. Look him over. Yeah. I’ll send 
him right over. Right [He hangs up.] Thanks. [To 
telephone.] 

tom. Am I going to get the job? 

joe. He wants to take a look at you, 

tom. Do I look all right, Joe? 

joe [looking at him carefully]. Hold up your head. 

Stick out your chest How do you feel? 

[tom does these (kings.] 
tom. Fine. 

joe. You look fine, too. [joe takes his wad of gum out 
of his mouth and wraps “ Liberty " magazine around 
it-] 

joe. You win, Tom. Now, look. [He bites off the tip of 
a very long panatela cigar, lights it, and hands one 
to tom, and another to kit.] Have yourselves a pleas¬ 
ant smoke. Here. [He hands two more to tom.] Give 
those slummers one each. \He indicates the society 
LADY and GENTLEMAN.] 

[tom goes over and without a word gives a cigar each 
to the man and the lady. The man is offended; he 
smells and tosses aside his cigar. The woman looks 
at her cigar a moment, then puts the cigar in her 
mouth.] 

man. What do you think you’re doing? 
lady. Really, dear. I’d like to. 
man. Oh, this is too much. 

lady. I’d really, really like to, dear. [She laughs, puts 
the cigar in her mouth. Turns to kit. He spits out 
tip. She does the same.] 


470 William Saroyan 

man [loudly]. The mother of five grown men, and she’s 
still looking for romance. [Shouts as kit lights her 
cigar.] No. I forbid it. 

joe [shouting]. What's the matter with you? Why 
don’t you leave her alone? What are you always 
pushing your women around for? [Almost without 
a pause. J Now, look, Tom. [The lady puts the 
lighted cigar in her mouth, and begins to smoke, 
feeling wonderful .] Here’s ten bucks. 
tom. Ten bucks? 

joe. He may want you to get Into a truck and begin 
driving to San Diego tonight. 
tom. Joe, I got to tell Kitty. 
joe. I’ll tell her. 
tom. Joe, take care of her. 

joe. She'll be all right. Stop worrying about her. She's 
at the St. Francis Hotel. Now, look. Take a cab to 
Townsend and Fourth. You’ll see the big sign. 
Keith Motor Transport Company. He’ll be waiting 
for you. 

tom. O.K., Joe. [Trying hard.] Thanks, Joe. 
joe. Don’t be silly. Get going. 

[tom goes, lady starts puffing on cigar. As tom goes, 
wesley and harry come in together .] 
nick. Where the hell have you been? We've got to have 
some entertainment around here. Can’t you see them 
fine people from uptown? [He points at the society 

LADY and GENTLEMAN.] 

wesley. You said to come back at ten for the second 
show. 

nick. Did I say that? 

wesley. Yes, sir, Mr. Nick, that’s exactly what you 
said. 

harry. Was the first show all right? 

nick. That wasn’t a show. There was no one here to 


The Time of Your Life 471 
see it. How can it be a show when no one sees it? 
People are afraid to come down to the waterfront. 
harry. Yeah. We were just down to Pier 27. One of 
the longshoremen and a cop had a fight and the cop 
hit him over the head with a blackjack. We saw it 
happen, didn’t we? 

wesley. Yes, sir, we was standing there looking when 
it happened. 

nick [a little worried]. Anything else happen? 
wesley. They was all talking. 
harry. A man in a big car came up and said there was 
going to be a meeting right away and they hoped to 
satisfy everybody and stop the strike. 
wesley. Right away. Tonight. 
nick. Well, it’s about time. Them poor cops are liable 
to get nervous and—shoot somebody. [To harry, 
suddenly.] Come back here. I want you to tend bar 
for a while. I'm going to take a walk over to the 
pier. 

harry. Yes, sir. 

nick [to the society lady and centleman]. You so¬ 
ciety people made up your minds yet? 
lady. Have you champagne? 

nick [indicating joe]. What do you think he’s pour¬ 
ing out of that bottle, water or something? 
lady. Have you a chill bottle? 
nick. I’ve got a dozen of them chilled. He’s been 
drinking champagne here all day and all night for 
a month now. 

lady. May we have a bottle? 

nick. It’s six dollars. 

lady. I think we can manage. 

man. I don’t know. I know I don't know. 

[nick takes off his coat and helps harry into it. harry 
takes a bottle of champagne and two glasses to the 


472 William Saroyan 

lady and gentleman, dancing, collects six dollars, 
and goes back behind the bar, dancing, nick gets 
his coat and hat.] 

nick [to wesleyJ. Rattle the keys a little, son. Rattle 
the keys. 

Wesley. Yes, sir, Mr. Nick. 

[nick is on his way out. The arab enters.] 

nick. Hi-ya, Mahmed. 

arab. No foundation. 

nick. All the way down the line. [He goes.] 

[wesley is at the piano, playing quietly. The arab 
swallows a glass of beer, takes out his harmonica, 
and begins to play, wesley fits his playing to the 
Arab’s, kitty duval, strangely beautiful, in new 
clothes, comes in. She walks shyly, as if she were em¬ 
barrassed by the fine clothes, as if she had no right 
to wear them. The lady and gentleman are very 
impressed, harry looks at her with amazement, joe 
is reading “Time” magazine, kitty goes to his table. 
joe looks up from the magazine, without the least' 
amazement.] 
joe. Hello, Kitty. 
kitty. Hello, Joe. 
joe. It's nice seeing you again. 

Kimr, I came in a cab. 

joe. You been crying again? [kitty can’t answer. To 
harry.] Bring a glass. 

[harry comes over with a glass, joe pours kitty a 
drink.] 

kitty. I've got to talk to you. 
joe. Have a drink. 

kitty. I’ve never been in burlesque. We were just 
poor. 

joe. Sit down, Kitty. 

kitty [sits down]. I tried other things. 


The Time of Your Life 473 
joe. Here’s to you, Katerina Koranovsky. Here’s to 
you. And Tom. 

kitty [sorrowfully]. Where is Tom? 
joe. He’s getting a job tonight driving a truck. He’ll 
be back in a couple of days. 
kitty [sadly]. I told him I’d marry him. 
joe. He wanted to see you and say good-by. 
kitty. He’s too good for me. He’s like a little boy. 
[Wearily.] I'm— Too many things have happened to 
me. 

joe. Kitty Duval, you're one of the few truly innocent 
people I have ever known. He’ll be back in a couple 
of days. Go back to the hotel and wait for him. 
kitty. That's what I mean. I can’t stand being alone. 
I'm no good. I tried very hard. I don’t know what 
it is. I miss— [ She gestures.] 
joe [gently]. Do you really want to come back here, 
Kitty? 

kitty. I don’t know. I’m not sure. Everything smells 
different. I don’t know how to feel, or what to think. 
[Gesturing pathetically.] I know I don't belong 
there. It’s what I’ve wanted all my life, but it’s too 
late. I try to be happy about it, but all I can do is 
remember everything and cry. 
joe. I don’t know what to tell you, Kitty. I didn’t 
mean to hurt you. 

kitty. You haven't hurt me. You’re the only person 
who’s ever been good to me. I've never known any¬ 
body like you. I’m not sure about love any more, 
but I know I love you, and I know I love Tom. 
joe. I love you too, Kitty Duval. 
kitty. He’ll want babies. I know he will. I know I 
will, too. Of course I will. I can't- [SA«r shakes her 
head.] 

joe. Tom’s a baby himself. You’ll be very happy to- 


474 William Saroyan 

gether. He wants you to ride with him in the truck. 
Tom’s good for you. You’re good for Tom. 
xrrrY [like a child]. Do you want me to go back and 
wait for him? 

JOE. I can’t tell you what to do. I think it would be a 
good idea, though. 

KITTY. I wish I could tell you how it makes me feel to 
be alone. It's almost worse. 
joe. It might take a whole week, Kitty. [He looks at 
her sharply, at the arrival of an idea.] Didn't you 
speak of reading a book? A book of poems? 
kitty . I didn't know what I was saying. 
joe [trying to get up]. Of course you knew. I think 
you'll like poetry. Wait here a minute, Kitty. I’ll 
go see if I can find some books. 
kitty. All right, Joe. 

[He walks out of the place, trying very hard not to 
wobble. Fog-horn. Music. The newsboy comes in. 
Looks for joe. Is broken-hearted because joe is 
gone.] 

NEWSBOY [tO SOCIETY GENTLEMAN]. Paper? 

man [angry]. No. 

[The newsboy goes to the arab.] 
newsboy. Paper, Mister? 

Arab [irritated]. No foundation. 
newsboy. What? 

ARAB [very angry]. No foundation. 

[The newsboy starts out, turns, looks at the arab, 
shakes head.] 

newsboy. No foundation? How do you figure? 

[buck and two cops enter.] 
newsboy [to BUCK]. Paper, Mister? 

[buck pushes him aside. The newsboy goes.] 
buck [walking authoritatively about the place, to 
harry]. Where’s Nick? 
harry. He went for a walk. 


The Time of Your Life 475 


buck. Who are you? 

HARRY, Harry. 

buck [to the arab and wesley]. Hey, you. Shut up. 
[The arab stops playing the harmonica, wesley the 
piano.] 

buck [studies kitty]. What’s your name, sister? 
kitty [looking at him]. Kitty Duval. What’s it to you? 
[kitty’s voice is now like it was at the beginning 
of the play: tough, independent, bitter and hard.] 
blick [angry]. Don’t give me any of your gutter lip. 

Just answer my questions. 
kitty. You go to hell, you. 
buck [coming over, enraged]. Where do you live? 
kitty. The New York Hotel. Room 21. 
blick. Where do you work? 

kitty. I’m not working just now. I’m looking for work. 
blick. What kind of work? [kitty can’t answer.] What 
kind of work? [kitty can’t answer. Furiously .] What 
kind of work7 
[kit carson comes over.] 

kit carson. You can’t talk to a lady that way in my 
presence. 

[blick turns and stares at Krr. The cops begin to move 
from the bar.] 

buck [to the cops]. It’s all right, boys. I’ll take care 
of this. [T o Krr.] What’d you sayf 
Krr carson. You got no right to hurt people. Who are 
you? 

[buck, without a word, takes Krr to the street. Sounds 
of a blow and a groan, blick returns, breathing 
hard.] 

buck [to the cops], O.K., boys. You can go now. Take 
care of him. Put him on his feet and tell him to be¬ 
have himself from now on. [To kitty again.] Now 
answer my question. What kind of work? 

Kitty [quietly]. I’m a whore, you son of a bitch. You 


1 


476 William Saroyan 

know what kind of work I do. And I know what 
kind you do. 

man [shocked and really hurt]. Excuse me, officer, but 
it seems to me that your attitude— 
buck. Shut up. 

man [quietly], -is making the poor child say things 
that are not true. 
buck. Shut up, I said. 

LADY. Well. [To the man.] Are you going to stand for 
such insolence? 

blick [to man, who is standing]. Are you? 

MAN [taking the woman’s arm]. I'll get a divorce. I’ll 
start life all over again. [Pushing the woman.] Come 
on. Get the hell out of here! [The man hurries his 
woman out of the place, blick watching them go.] 
buck [to kitty]. Now. Let’s begin again, and see that 
you tell the truth. What's your name? 
kitty. Kitty Duval. 
buck. Where do you live? 

kitty. Until this evening I lived at the New York 
Hotel. Room 21. This evening I moved to the St. 
Francis Hotel. 

buck. Oh. To the St. Francis Hotel. Nice place. Where 
do you work? 

kitty. I’m looking for work. 
buck. What kind of work do you do? 
kitty, I’m an actress. 

buck. I see. What movies have I seen you in? 
kitty. I've worked in burlesque. 
blick. You're a liar. 

[wesley stands, worried and full of dumb resentment.] 
kitty [pathetically , as at the beginning of the play]. 

It’s the truth. r J 

blick. What are you doing here? 
kitty. I came to see if I could get a job here. 
buck. Doing what? 


The Time of Your Life 477 
kitty. Singing—and—dancing. 

blick. You can’t sing or dance. What are you lying for? 
kitty. I can. I sang and danced in burlesque all over 
the country. 
blick. You're a liar. 
kitty. I said lines, too. 
buck. So you danced in burlesque? 
kitty. Yes. 

buck. All right. Let’s see what you did. 
kitty. I can’t. There’s no music, and I haven’t got the 
right clothes. 

buck. There’s music [To wesley.] Put a nickel in that 
phonograph, [wesley can't move.] Come on. Put a 
nickel in that phonograph, [wesley does so. To 
kitty.] AH right. Get up on that stage and do a hot 
little burlesque number, [kitty stands. Walks slowly 
to the stage, but is unable to move, joe comes in, 
holding three books.] Get going, now. Let's see you 
dance the way you did in burlesque, all over the 
country. 

[kitty tries to do a burlesque dance. It is beautiful in 
a tragic way.] 

buck. All right, start taking them off! 

[kitty removes her hat and starts to remove her jacket. 

joe moves closer to the stage, amazed.] 
joe [hurrying to kitty]. Get down from there. [He 
takes kitty into his arms. She is crying. To buck.] 
What the hell do you think you’re doing? 
wesley [like a little boy, very angry]. It’s that man, 
Blick. He made her take off her clothes. He beat up 
the old man, too, 

[blick pushes wfsley off, as TOM enters, blick begins 
beating up wesley.] 

tom. What’s the matter, Joe? What’s happened? 
joe. Is the truck out there? 

TOM. Yeah, but what’s happened? Kitty's crying again! 


478 William Saroyan 
joe. You driving to San Diego? 
tom. Yeah, Joe. But what’s he doing to that poor col¬ 
ored boy? 

joe. Get going. Here’s some money. Everything’s O.K. 

[To kitty.] Dress in the truck. Take these books. 
WESLEY’S voice. You can't hurt me. You'll get yours. 
You wait and see. 

tom. Joe, he’s hurting that boy. I’ll kill him! 
joe [pushing tom]. Get out of here! Get married in 
San Diego. I’ll see you when you get back, [tom 
and kitty go. nick enters and stands at the lower 
end of bar. joe takes the revolver out of his pocket. 
Looks at it.] I’ve always wanted to kill somebody, 
but I never knew who it should be. [He cocks the 
revolver, stands real straight, holds it in front of 
him firmly and walks to the door. He stands a mo¬ 
ment watching buck, aims very carefully, and pulls 
trigger. There is no shot, nick runs over and grabs 
the gun, and takes joe aside.] 
nick. What the hell do you think you’re doing? 
joe [casually, but angry]. That dumb Tom. Buys a 
six-shooter that won’t even shoot once, [joe sits 
down, dead to the world, buck comes out, panting 
for breath, nick looks at him. He speaks slowly.] 
nick. Blick! I told you to stay out of here! Now get out 
of here. [He takes buck by the collar, tightening his 
grip as he speaks, and pushing him out.] If you 
come back again, I’m going to take you in that room 
where you've been bearing up that colored boy, and 
I’m going to murder you—slowly—with my hands. 
Beat it! [He pushes buck out. To harry.] Go take 
care of the colored boy. 

[harry runs out. wilue returns and doesn't sense that 
anything is changed, wields puts another nickel into 
the machine, but he does so very violently. The con¬ 
sequence of this violence is that the flag comes up 


The Time of Your life 479 
again, wilue, amazed, stands at attention and sa¬ 
lutes. The flag goes down. He shakes his head.] 
wilue [thoughtfully]. As far as I’m concerned, this is 
the only country in the world. If you ask me, nuts 
to Europe! [He is about to push the slide in again 
when the flag comes up again. Furiously, to nick, 
while he salutes and stands at attention, pleadingly.] 
Hey, Nick. This machine is out of order. 
nick [somberly]. Give it a whack on the side. 

[willie does so. A hell of a whack. The result is the 
flag comes up and down, and willie keeps saluting.] 
willie [ttriuting]. Hey, Nick. Something’s wrong. 
[The machine quiets down abruptly, willie very 
stealthily slides a new nickel in, and starts a new 
game. From a distance two pistol shots are heard 
each carefully timed, nick runs out. The newsboy 
enters, crosses to joe’s table, senses something is 
wrong.] 

newsboy [softly]. Paper, Mister? 

[joe can’t hear him. The newsboy backs away, stud¬ 
ies joe, wishes he could cheer joe up. Notices the 
phonograph, goes to it, and puts a coin in it, hop¬ 
ing music will make joe happier. The newsboy sits 
down. Watches joe. The music begins. "The Mis¬ 
souri Waltz.” The drunkard comes in and walks 
around. Then sits down, nick comes back.] 
nick [delighted]. Joe, Blick’s dead! Somebody just shot 
him, and none of the cops are trying to find out 
who. [joe doesn’t hear, nick steps back, studying joe. 
Shouting .] Joe. 
joe [looking up\. What? 
nick. Blick’s dead, 

joe. Blick? Dead? Good! That goddamn gun wouldn’t 
go off. I told Tom to get a good one. 
nick [picking up gun and looking at i*]. Joe, you 
wanted to kill that guy! [harry returns. JOE puts the 


480 William Saroyan 

gun in his coat pocket.] I’m going to buy you a bot¬ 
tle of champagne, [nick goes to fear.] 

[joe rises, takes hat from rack, puts coat on. The 
newsboy jumps up, helps joe with coat.] 
nick. What’s the matter, Jfoe? 
joe. Nothing. Nothing. 
nick. How about the champagne? 
joe. Thanks. [Going.] 

nick. It’s not eleven yet Where you going, Joe? 
joe. I don't know. Nowhere. 
nick. Will I see you tomorrow? 
joe. I don't know. I don't think so. 

[kit carson enters, walks to joe. joe and kit look at 
one another knowingly .] 

joe. Somebody just shot a man. How are you feeling? 
Krr. Never felt better in my life. [Loudly, bragging, 
but somber .] I shot a man once. In San Francisco. 
Shot him two times. In 1939,1 think it was. In Oc¬ 
tober. Fellow named Blick or Glick or something 
like that. Couldn’t stand the way he talked to ladies. 
Went up to my room and got my old pearl-handled 
revolver and waited for him on Pacific Street. Saw 
him walking, and let him have it, two times. Had 
to throw the beautiful revolver into the Bay. 
[harry, nick, the arab and the drunkard close in 
around him. joe searches kis pockets, brings out 
the revolver, puts it in kit's hand, looks at him with 
great admiration and affection, joe walks slowly to 
the stairs leading to the street, turns and waves. Krr, 
and then one by one everybody else, waves, and the 
marble game goes into its beautiful American rou¬ 
tine again: flag, lights, and music. The play ends.] 


CURTAIN